Laid Off but Not Let Go: What happens when your company has given you a temporary lay off notice?
Who is this article for?
This article is for non-unionized employees in Alberta who work in a provincially regulated workplace.
If you are a unionized employee or if you work for a federally regulated company, you may be subject to separate rules and procedures.
What is a temporary lay off?
The first thing to know is that if your company has laid you off, you are still an employee of the company. Alberta’s Employment Standards Code permits Alberta companies to essentially suspend a worker’s employment. During the temporary lay off period, the company does not need to pay the employee’s salary or benefits. The maximum period for temporary layoffs is 120 days.
When can it happen?
Many companies have recently had to temporarily lay off employees during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Companies will often use the temporary layoff provisions when there is a shortage of work, regardless of the cause.
What happens next?
The company has two options after issuing a temporary layoff notice: (1) recall the employee within 120 days of the temporary lay off start date, or (2) terminate the employee. If the company wishes to recall an employee, the company must provide the employee with a written notice at least 7 days prior to the recall date.
What are your options?
When an employee has been temporarily laid off, she or he has two options: (1) find new work or (2) wait for a recall notice. This is incredibly frustrating for most people right now since many companies are not hiring.
What if there is no recall notice?
Alberta law does not require companies to recall any or all its employees. However, if a company does not recall an employee within the 120 temporary layoff period, then the company has terminated the employee and must give the employee notice of the termination or severance (i.e. pay in lieu of working notice of the termination). Severance amounts vary and depend on many factors. Please seek legal advice before agreeing to any form of severance or termination pay.
Do I have to go back to work?
If you choose to not go back to work after receiving a recall notice, your company may legally choose to terminate your employment and not to provide you with severance or termination pay.
If you do not receive a recall notice within 120 days of the temporary lay off start date, or if you receive a termination notice, please seek legal advice. We have provided companies and individuals with legal advice on termination, and are happy to help you with your concerns.