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UPDATE: CERB Extension and Changes to Employment Insurance

The Federal government has announced a four-week extension to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

As explained by the Government of Canada, the CERB is being extended from 24 weeks to 28 weeks for workers who:

  • stopped working due to COVID-19, or
  • are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits, or
  • have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020.

The Federal government also announced that it will be transitioning to a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program, effective September 27, 2020, to provide income support to eligible individuals who remain unable to work. Under this program the Federal government has stated the following will apply:

  • employees will only need 120 hours of work to qualify
  • the minimum benefit rate will be $400 per week, and
  • there will be at least 26 weeks of regular benefits.

What does this mean for employers in Alberta?

With the extension of the CERB and changes made to EI, many employers may feel relieved that their laid-off employees will continue to receive the benefit. This may factor into their plans to recall employees and may provide a sense of security as they resume operations.

While it is good to know that employees are receiving some income replacement, employers will need to be mindful of a 180-day clock that started on the first day of the temporary layoff, if that temporary layoff is related to COVID-19. More information on the Government of Alberta’s changes to temporary layoff provisions in response to COVID-19 can be found here.

Field Law is here to provide strategic advice and support. Please contact a lawyer from the Labour + Employment group at any time to discuss the best options for you and your organization.