Layoff obligations reinstated as business gets back to normal: Saskatchewan employment standards exemptions repealed

August 17, 2021 | Amir Aboguddah


On August 5, 2021, pursuant to SR 81/2021 the Saskatchewan Government repealed Sections 44.2 to 44.4 of The Employment Standards Regulations, which were introduced in May of last year in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and reinstated certain pre-pandemic regulations.

Last Year’s Regulations

Last year’s regulations exempted employers from certain provisions of The Employment Standards Act (the “Act”) during what was labelled as a “public emergency period”. Namely, they exempted employers from the obligation to give written notice within prescribed periods (found in s. 2-60 of the Act) before laying off an employee as well as the obligation to compensate employees for the stipulated notice period (s. 2-60 of the Act). The repealed regulations also exempted employers from s. 2-62 of the Act, which imposed certain notice obligations, in addition to those imposed by s. 2-60 on employers when dismissing ten (10) or more employees within a four-week period.

The New Regulations

Pursuant to the new regulations, the obligations found in ss. 2-60 – 2-62 of the Act are reinstated and again apply to employers. Importantly, the exemptions continue to apply for two weeks after the coming into the force of the regulations; that is, two weeks from August 5th, 2021.

Following the two-week exemption period, an employer must schedule any laid off workers (who were laid off pursuant to the exemptions in last year’s regulations) to work. If a laid off employee is not scheduled to return to work for the employer, the employee will be deemed to be terminated and will be entitled to pay in lieu of notice pursuant to ss. 2-60 and 2-61 of the Act. The compensation in lieu of notice will be calculated from the original date on which the employee was laid off.

If an employee is scheduled to work but does not return to work, the employee will be deemed to have resigned.

Moving Forward

  • Keep track of the two-week exemption period, which starts on August 5, 2021;
  • After the two-week exemption period, remember ss. 2-60 – 2-62 of the Act fully apply; and
  • Make sure to comply with the scheduling obligations immediately following the two-week period (found in s. 3 of SR 81/2021).


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