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Temporary Layoff – An Employer’s Guide

Employers could sometimes be faced with business challenges that make it impractical to

retain some employees or positions. A shortage of available work in an organization may

create redundancy, hence the need to temporarily lay off some employees.

This may be due to the nature of the business, unforeseen events like a pandemic, or

natural disaster,- or simply due to a decline in business activities. Whatever the reason,

employers must ensure that they are aware and will comply with all extant legislation before

deciding to layoff employees.

A temporary layoff occurs when an employer cuts back or stops an employee's work and pay without ending their employment relationship. The employment relationship and the contract is put on hold at this time. Employers are not required to provide employees with written notice of a temporary layoff, nor do they have to provide a reason for the layoff

unless the employment contract or a collective agreement requires that employers will have to take note of the following if they are considering temporary layoff of employees:

  • The contract of employment must allow it- provision for temporary layoff must be

included in the existing contract of employment between the employer and the

employer else it may be deemed constructive dismissal

  • A "week of layoff" is a week in which the employee earned less than half of what

they would ordinarily earn (or earns on average) in a week

  • A week of layoff does not include any week in which the employee did not work for one or more days because the employee was not able or available to work

  • Employers may not specify a recall date when laying the employee off but that does not make the lay-off permanent.

  • The layoff period cannot exceed 13 weeks of layoff in any period of 20 consecutive weeks or

  • Can exceed 13 weeks in a 20 consecutive period but cannot exceed 35 weeks of layoff in any period of 52 consecutive weeks, there are some exceptions to this provision.

Temporary Layoff
Temporary Layoff

Note that a layoff can exceed 35 weeks of layoff in any period of 52 consecutive weeks,

where the employer recalls an employee who is represented by a trade union within the

time set out in an agreement between the union and the employer.

If an employee is laid off for a period longer than a temporary layoff, the employer is

considered to have terminated the employee's employment. Generally, the employee will

then be entitled to termination pay.

Tips for Employers

  • Consider adding a clause in your employment agreement that allows for temporary layoff

  • Check if your employees will agree to a temporary layoff and get a written consent from them, if your situation is not covered by legislated layoff provisions.

  • By adhering to these provisions, employers can safely manage temporary layoffs with the interest of the employee being uppermost.

  • If you need assistance or clarification about issues on temporary layoffs, feel free to contact us at or email

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