Temporary Staff Layoffs
June 2020 Update: After ongoing dialogue with government over the past several weeks, the maximum length of temporary layoffs has been extended from 120 to 180 days. This is great news for hotels that cannot yet bring back all their staff, and were facing significant costs for termination pay.
May 2020 Update: The Government of Alberta has extended the eligibility of 120 day temporary layoffs to employees who were laid off prior to March 17 as a result of COVID-19. The start date of the layoff is still the original layoff date, and does not reset to March 17. Employers are encouraged to notify employees of the extended layoff time if it conflicts with their original temporary layoff notice.
Employers in Alberta’s hotel industry recognize that their employees are their greatest asset. As a result of the rapidly evolving and cascading effects of COVID-19, hotels that employ hundreds of Albertans have been forced to reduce hours due to cancellations and lost business, with no indication of when this business will return.
- If your hotel has difficulty maintaining hours for staff, you can arrange for your employee to use any accrued but unused vacation time prior to laying the employee off, although you are not required to.
- Should you be forced to lay staff off, you are able to do so temporarily, according to the Government of Alberta’s Employment Standards Code.
- The Government of Alberta has extended the eligibility of 120 day temporary layoffs to employees who were laid off prior to March 17 as a result of COVID-19. The start date of the layoff is still the original layoff date, and does not reset to March 17. Employers are encouraged to notify employees of the extended layoff time if it conflicts with their original temporary layoff notice.
- The period of temporary layoff can be extended beyond 120 days if the employer makes regular payment to or on behalf of the employee, such as continuing to pay wages, employee pensions, or benefits, and the employee agrees to these payments in lieu of a firm limit of the length of the layoff. Termination pay is payable when payments in lieu cease.
- The notice must:
- be in writing,
- state that it is a temporary layoff notice and its effective date, and
- include sections 62-64 of the Code.
- When an employee has been temporarily laid off from their position, the employment relationship remains intact. As the employment relationship has not been terminated, the vacation pay standards outlined in Part 2, Division 6 in the Employment Standards Code continue to apply. An employer is not required to provide payment of any accrued vacation pay at the time of temporary layoff.
- If the employee does not use up their vacation prior to being laid off, and is not called back to work after the temporary layoff period, the employee’s employment is considered to be ended. All vacation pay, as well as the amount required for severance under Employment Standards, must be paid out to the employee. Please see sections 62-64 of the code for more details.
- See a sample layoff letter that you can use (Word doc download)
Recalling Staff from a Temporary Layoff
Hotels that wish to recall employees who were laid off as a result of COVID-19 should know the rules. Before calling employees back to work, the AHLA encourages employers to:
- Review & Revise Hazard Assessments: Review & revise all measures taken to ensure the safety of workers and guests, including barriers/shields, policies & personal protective equipment.
- Update Training: Plan training on new and existing health & safety protocols for both new & returning employees.
When calling employees back:
- Notify: As per Government of Alberta Employment Standards, employers must provide seven days’ notice IN WRITING. In case of a dispute, it is important that an employer can show the employee did, in fact, receive the notice. There are several ways to serve a recall notice to an employee:
- give the notice to the employee in person, either at work or at the employee’s address
- leave the notice at the employee’s address with a person who appears to be 18 or older
- send the notice by mail or registered mail
- send the notice by fax or email
If the employee does not return to work within seven days of being served the recall notice, the employer can terminate employment, and the employee will not be entitled to termination notice or termination pay. Click here for a sample recall letter you can use (pdf download).
- Communicate: Review hazards and explain safety measures that have been put in place for the safety of employees and guests.
When the employee returns to the job site, before they start working:
- Train: Complete training on new safety equipment & protocols.
- Document: Document training.
- Reassess as needed: Prepare each department to monitor for compliance and further hazard identification.
Employees have the right to refuse unsafe work. If an employee has concerns about health & safety and refuses to work, the AHLA encourages you to:
- Ask the worker to explain why they feel unsafe, and what safety precautions they think are missing. Respond to their questions and document all concerns and conversations. Worker returns to work, or:
- Remedy the dangerous condition if there is one, and inspect in the presence of the Health & Safety Committee member who represents the worker or the Health & Safety Representative. Worker returns to work, or:
- Complete a Right to Refuse Unsafe Work form. The AHLA has a template you can adapt for your property (pdf download).
- If the employee still refuses to work, the employer should contact OHS to investigate and make a decision about whether the employee is entitled to continue refusing work.
Anywhere in Alberta: 1-866-415-8690
Edmonton & surrounding area: 780-415-8690
Deaf or hearing impaired: 780-427-9999 (Edmonton); 1-800-232-7215 (Alberta)
For questions about Government of Alberta Employment Standards, you can fill out this form or call 1-877-427-3731.
Additional Staffing & Labour Resources
Resources for Canadian Businesses (Government of Canada)
Payroll & COVID-19 (The Canadian Payroll Association)