Manitoba makes changes to rules around layoffs during coronavirus pandemic

Manitoba Finance Minister Scott Fielding announced changes to legislation around layoffs Friday amid the COVID-19 outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

The Manitoba government is changing the rules around layoffs during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The change to the employment standards regulations, announced Friday, will give employers more time to bring back workers laid off as a result of the pandemic, said Finance Minister Scott Fielding.

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“The sudden economic impacts of COVID-19 are significant and we are addressing concerns we’ve heard from both employers and the labour force in Manitoba as businesses are forced to close their doors and lay off employees,” said Fielding in a release.

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“This measure will provide flexibility to employers to recall employees once work picks up again after this difficult time period and avoid severing their employment.”

Under current legislation, employees who have been laid off for eight weeks or more in a 16-week period are deemed to have been terminated and are entitled to wages in lieu of notice.

Under the temporary amendment, any period of layoff starting after March 1 will not be counted toward the period, after which a temporary layoff would become a permanent termination.

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The government said it consulted with and received support for the change from the Labour Management Review Committee, which is made up of both employers and labour organizations.

“We recognize these unique circumstances may require a longer layoff period than regulation allows, so these amendments would stop the clock until the state of emergency is lifted and keep employers in a position to quickly recall laid-off employees and ramp up business again,” said Fielding.

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“We are committed to supporting Manitobans through the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re taking a balanced approach to help both employers and employees to address economic uncertainty and financial hardship.”

Fielding stressed the measure is temporary and specific to situations where workers will be rehired once the COVID-19 crisis has subsided.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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