Understanding Temporary Layoffs in Alberta

Understanding Temporary Layoffs in Alberta

In Alberta, the maximum duration of a temporary layoff is 90 days in a 120-day period. The employee is terminated on the 91st day if they have not resumed work. Termination pay must be paid if the employee is entitled.

In Alberta, the economic landscape can fluctuate and force businesses to make difficult decisions. One such decision is the need for temporary layoffs. This action is a crucial tool that can help businesses weather financial storms without permanently severing ties with their employees. However, it’s essential for employers and employees to understand the intricacies of the temporary layoff process.

What is a Temporary Layoff in Alberta?

A temporary layoff is a mechanism that allows employers to temporarily suspend the employment of their workers without terminating their employment. The Alberta Employment Standards Code governs this process, defining a temporary layoff as a period during which an employer temporarily stops providing work to an employee without terminating their employment contract. This stoppage is temporary, not a termination or a resignation. During this period, the employment relationship still exists, but the employer-employee obligations are paused.

When Can an Employer Temporarily Lay Off Employees in Alberta?

Temporary layoffs are most commonly implemented during periods of economic downturn or unexpected circumstances that have negatively impacted the financial viability of a business. Alberta law allows employers to use this tool when they are unable to provide work for their employees, often due to reasons beyond their control. It’s also important to note that an employer must have contractual authority, either through an explicit term in the employment contract or a collective agreement, or implied authority through industry practice, to lay off an employee temporarily.

Procedure for Implementing Temporary Layoffs in Alberta

The procedure for implementing temporary layoffs in Alberta is outlined by Alberta’s Employment Standards Code. Firstly, an employer must provide written notice of the temporary layoff to the employee. This notice must either be given to the employee personally or sent by registered mail. The notice must state that it’s a temporary layoff notice and its effective date.

The timing of this notice depends on the employee’s length of service. If the employee has been employed for less than two years, the notice must be given at least one week before the layoff date. For employees with more than two years of service, notice should be provided at least two weeks before the intended layoff date.

Notice Periods and Potential Legal Repercussions in Alberta

The law does provide for exceptional situations where the standard notice periods may be unreasonable or impractical. For instance, in cases of unforeseeable circumstances or emergencies, such as a natural disaster or a sudden economic downturn, the required notice period may be waived.

However, it is critical that employers do not take notice periods lightly. Failure to provide proper notice can lead to allegations of wrongful or constructive dismissal. Wrongful dismissal refers to an employee’s termination without adequate notice or pay in lieu of notice. On the other hand, constructive dismissal occurs when an employer unilaterally changes a fundamental term of the employment contract, resulting in the employee resigning. In such cases, the resignation is treated as a dismissal.

In conclusion, while temporary layoffs can be a valuable tool for businesses facing economic hardships in Alberta, they must be implemented carefully and within the legal framework. By understanding and respecting these rules, businesses can navigate challenging financial periods while maintaining positive employer-employee relationships.