New emergency leave provisions available for NWT workers

FOXY at work in Tuktoyaktuk
FOXY at work in Tuktoyaktuk.
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The GNWT is providing more protection to NWT workers and flexibility to employers during the COVID-19 pandemic and future emergencies.

They have established an emergency leave provision, which provides job protection to NWT workers by allowing them to access unpaid leave when they are unable to perform their duties because of an emergency, such as the pandemic.

These changes came into effect July 1st.

Minister of Employment R. J. Simpson says this will make it easier for Northern residents to take time off work in the case of an emergency to care for themselves and their families.

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Eligible NWT workers are able to access federal recovery benefits while on emergency leave related to COVID-19.

Entitlement to emergency leave for COVID-19 is retroactive to March 18th, 2020, when the first territory-wide Public Health Emergency was declared

Employees who were terminated from their employment because they were unable to work as a result of COVID-19 may have grounds to file a complaint with the Employment Standards Office.

Complaints for terminations due to COVID-19 that occurred between March 18th, 2020 and June 30th, 2021 must be sent in by January 2nd, 2022.

The legislation applies to most employees and employers excluding those that are federal government employees, GNWT employees, and workers in federally regulated industries.

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NWT employers are also being provided flexibility for when an unforeseeable event or circumstance beyond their control prevents them from respecting the relevant notice period.

There is now an exception to the legislated requirement to provide notice of group termination to the ESO when the employer can demonstrate the circumstances were beyond their control.

Employers will still be required to provide notice of group termination to the ESO, and employees will retain their entitlement to individual notice of termination or termination pay.

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