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How to conduct group layoffs without issue

Article co-written & researched by Tyler Anthony

The decision to let go of employees is never easy and can result in significant financial costs if improperly executed. Unfortunately, this is a reality that many business owners have had to deal with in 2020 in order to keep the doors open. As an employer, you may find yourself needing to layoff a large number of staff in a short period of time. Should this ever be the case, it’s imperative you understand your legal obligations along with the temporary changes to Alberta’s employment law due to COVID-19.    

Conducting group layoffs

Under the Employment Standards Code if an employer intends to terminate 50 or more employees at a single location within a four-week period they are required to provide the Minister of Labour and Immigration a notice.  The notice must include the following information:

  1. The number of employees to be terminated;
  2. The dates of termination; and
  3. Any other information required by the regulations.

The Minister must receive the notice before the first employee is terminated. The period of time to provide this notice is determined by the number of employees being laid off:

0 to 100 employees 8 weeks in advance
100 to 300 employees 12 weeks in advance
300 or more employees 16 weeks in advance

An employer also has a duty to provide a copy of the notice to the employee following the same timelines as specified above. The notice received by the affected employee will act as their individual termination notice. Failing to notify the Minister of Labour and Employment or an affected employee could result in a $1,500 – $6,000 administrative penalty.

Temporary amendments due to COVID-19

In response to COVID-19, employers are temporarily not required to provide employees with a termination notice if they will be a part of a group layoff.  It’s extremely important for employers to understand this is a temporary amendment and they still have a statutory duty to notify the Minister of Labour and the affected employees (COVID-19 measures notwithstanding) before conducting any group layoffs of 50 or more employees at a particular location.

If you haven’t conducted a group layoff before, we recommend consulting with legal aid prior to taking any action. Contact us today to book a consultation with one of our experts.


Phone: 403-718-9877


Written by:

Claudius is an experienced commercial lawyer who specializes in acquisitions, financing, and securities law in relation to corporate commercial law.


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