Manitoba allows businesses to keep employees laid off longer during COVID-19
Change in rules means employers won't be forced to terminate jobs
The Manitoba government has tweaked the rules in the provincial employment standards regulations to enable employers to keep staff laid off for a longer period without having to be permanently let go.
Typically, employees who have been laid off for eight or more weeks in a 16-week period are deemed to have been fired and are entitled to wages in lieu of receiving a termination notice.
Finance Minister Scott Fielding announced the change on Friday, saying it provides employees with job certainty while giving companies flexibility in an unprecedented time.
"It's essentially a pause," Fielding said, adding Manitoba is the first province in the country to do this.
"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."
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Asked a couple of times if that means laid-off employees will have to go longer before seeing any money, Fielding did not answer directly.
Instead, he repeated the change was discussed with the Manitoba Federation of Labour and the Labour Management Review Committee — which includes representatives of both employers and labour organizations — and they fully support it.
He then noted there are options available through the federal government.
"Obviously, there's been a lot of changes that have happened within the last weeks with EI. They've moved up the requirement of the time period when someone would have to be supported," Fielding said.
"I mean, this is hopefully a very short time period that we have to address this crisis issue."
He was asked but did not have a number as to how many Manitoba have been laid off since since the pandemic started.
Earlier in the day, Premier Brian Pallister was asked when Manitoba will announce measures to help people out of work pay their rent.
Pallister said nothing is off the table but that he expected to hear more from the federal government in terms of aid for out-of-work Canadians.
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With files from Bartley Kives