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How the End of the COVID-19 Layoff Period Affects Your Employment

With the school year ending and spring fading into the heat of summer, there is one other change Ontarians need to keep in mind before donning their sunglasses and taking some much-needed time off – the COVID-19 Period is finally coming to an end.  

What Is the COVID-19 Period?

During the pandemic, the government made modifications to accommodate the employment-related difficulties created by the pandemic. These temporary accommodations, which began on May 29, 2020, largely allowed employers some flexibility in addressing the downturn in business caused by the pandemic. On July 31, 2022, they will be ending. 

What does this mean for Employees?
Beginning on July 31, 2022, the following changes will occur:

    • No more guaranteed paid sick days! 
      • Unpaid covid sick days for COVID-19 are sticking around for now, but anything beyond that will depend on your employment contract.
  • Employers can no longer lay off employees for COVID-19 reasons
  • Reductions in wages or hours for COVID-19 reasons past this date could be seen as a termination
  • The temporary layoff clock will be re-set and begin counting starting on July 31, 2022
  • The ministry of labour will once again hear claims about termination or reductions in wages and/or work hours 
  • Note: It does not matter if the complaints are COVID-19 related or not

Many employers will find out that COVID-19 is not and was never a free pass for them to do whatever they wanted. They still have to follow employment standards, and the COVID-19 Period did not change that. If you are worried that your employment rights have not been respected, contact De Bousquet PC.

When Can I be Laid Off for COVID-19 Related Reasons?

Employees should also consider whether or not their employer’s COVID-19 layoffs are legitimate.

COVID-19 layoffs have five conditions that must be met: 

  • The employee is not unionized
  • The employee had their hours of work or wages reduced or eliminated
    1. The reduced or eliminated work hours or wages were reduced by the employer
      1. For employees, the cause of the reduction must stem from your employer. For example, if you took a leave of absence or personal time off, you do not meet this condition. 
  • It has to be for a valid COVID-19 related reason
  • The layoff had to have taken place sometime between March 1, 2020, to July 30, 2022

I Was Laid Off. Now What?

  •  When returning from a COVID-19 layoff, your employer must provide you with the exact same position, hours and rates of pay when you return
  • If they have not, this may constitute a constructive dismissal. Employees should contact De Bousquet PC immediately.
  • If your employer has laid you off and hired cheaper new employees, you should seek immediate legal advice
  • Check if your layoff reason is still valid
  •  As Ontario has reopened, there aren’t many valid reasons left! Employees should be wary when laid off for COVID-19 reasons and seek legal advice if they are unsure if the reason their employer has given them is valid.
  • Keep track of the details 
  • Small details such as exactly when your layoff started and all communication can have huge impacts. It’s best to keep track of these details.
  • Remember that the layoff timer officially starts on July 31, 2022
  • Seek legal advice if your employer does not call you back by July 31, 2022!

Coming Back from the COVID-19 Period

If you have experienced or are experiencing employment-related difficulties, do not hesitate to reach out to De Bousquet PC today. We will take the time to understand your situation and answer any questions you may have. De Bousquet PC can help you achieve the best possible resolution.

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