Prime Minister extends layoff provisions after meeting with business leaders

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VICTORIA – B.C. companies received an extension to temporarily lay off workers during the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday after Prime Minister John Horgan overturned his government’s position on the issue.

Horgan’s government has announced that a 16-week temporary layoff clause, which is scheduled to expire soon, will be extended to 24 weeks and will expire on August 30. Affected employees must accept any additional extensions with their employer.

The decision was a descent for the Horgan government, which opposed the idea last week.

The British Columbia business community has said the change will save many struggling businesses from bankruptcy by giving them more time to recover and recall staff, rather than starting permanent layoffs and severance packages. Organized unions opposed the move, arguing that the government should have done more to ensure that workers who are temporarily laid off get the first right to return to their jobs.

The extension came after a week in which the Horgan government was questioned for its lack of action on the issue. Horgan and Labor Minister Harry Bains promised to discuss the extension at a meeting with business leaders on Thursday.

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