(Minister of Labour Harry Bains/BC Gov Flickr)

The B.C. provincial government is urging employers and employees to apply together for temporary layoff provisions before an application deadline on Aug. 25.

Temporary layoffs were recently extended in June to a maximum period of 24 weeks following a lengthy summer of COVID-19 impacting business operations.

After today’s announcement, employers and employees can apply for variances to temporary layoffs that allow for changes to standards such as daily hours, paydays, and the maximum length of a temporary layoff.

Minister of Labour Harry Bains says that the provisions are aimed at preserving relationships between employers and employees and ensuring that workers can return to positions as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

He says employers and employees can jointly apply using an online portal to expedite applications and to ensure they are not impacted by severance pay and other penalties.

“We have seen a steady increase in applications over the past weeks,” said Bains during a news conference on Thursday.

“For some, missing this deadline could result in significant severance payments due to temporary layoffs becoming permanent layoffs, which could make their restart even more difficult.”

The government has updated the application process to provide an online portal for applicants that also includes templates for agreements.

Applications can be submitted online at www.gov.bc.ca/covidlayoffs.

The Minister said that an additional 70 staff have been hired specifically to process applications for temporary layoff variances.