Information for Employers Applying for COVID-19 Related Layoff Variances Through New Online Portal

July 31, 2020

In a helpful move for employers struggling with the impact of COVID-19 on their business, employers and employees can now jointly apply to the Employment Standards Branch (“ESB”) for a variance to extend a temporary layoff beyond what is currently permitted under the BC Employment Standards Act (the “Act”) through a newly released online portal (the “Portal”).

Applications must be received by August 25, 2020, to receive a decision by August 30, 2020.


On June 25, 2020 the BC government extended the maximum length permitted for a temporary layoff related to COVID-19 to 24 weeks, so long as the layoff ends on or before August 30, 2020. A layoff that lasts for more than 24 weeks or past August 30, 2020, whichever is sooner, will become a termination.

Despite the above, employers can seek a variance to extend a temporary layoff. The Portal’s website states: “Employers with reasonable plans to recall employees by a specific date that falls after August 30, 2020, can apply to extend the temporary layoff through a variance”.

To read more on the Portal and how to apply for a variance please read our latest COVID-19 bulletin:

COVID-19 Bulletin – July 31, 2020

For questions on any information contained in today’s bulletin, please feel free to reach out to a member of our firm.

All our previous COVID-19 information bulletins can be found on Roper Greyell’s COVID-19 resource page.