Fired in Alberta: Deemed Coronavirus Terminations
Covid-19 shut Alberta businesses down in mid March; almost exactly 6 months ago. A large number of employees were laid off temporarily. The Employment Standards Code in Alberta allows 180 days for temporary layoffs, after which the layoffs are permanent. We are now at the 180 days for many people. This is an issue that a lot of people are unaware about, but which may have drastic legal consequences.
Unless you have come to an agreement with your employer regarding extending your layoff (this seems to be very rare), at the 180 day mark, your temporary layoff becomes a permanent termination. You are not obligated to agree to the extension. This means that full severance obligations under the common law will likely be triggered.
Many employers will have large severance liability triggered. From an employer perspective, this can be fairly easily avoided by coming to an agreement with the employee to pay some compensation: salary, pension or benefits or other things. Ideally this would be memorialized in a written agreement.
The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.