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I have received temporary lay off letter to sign within 5 days . What will happen if I don’t return it? I need more time to discuss the lawyer and possible pursue legal action.

Your employer cannot require that you sign a letter acknowledging a temporary layoff. An employer is not permitted to unilaterally lay you off (temporarily or otherwise) unless one of the following conditions exists:

1) you consent to the layoff (by way of signing a letter such as the one provided to you);

2) a term in your signed contract/offer letter addresses the possibility of a temporary layoff (and by signing it you provided your agreement as to the employer's right to lay you off temporarily when required); or,

3) you have been laid off before, and were recalled, at which time you returned to work (which the employer could argue is acquiesce to a future layoff).

If none of the above are true, your employer cannot legally lay you off from your employment.

In addition to the above, the Ontario government recently passed a regulation, the result of which is employers cannot impose the temporary layoff provision of the Employment Standards Act, and are therefore unable to temporarily lay off employees during the "COVID period". The COVID period runs from March 1 until the date which falls six weeks after the provincial emergency order ends - currently this falls on September 8, 2020. If an employee is laid off during this period, the regulation means that the employee is actually on a job protected leave instead (the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave) which requires the employer to reinstate the employee to to the same or a comparable position at the end of the leave period.

We would advise you to contact our office to set up a consult with a lawyer who can review your letter and provide you with further advice relating specifically to your circumstances prior to you agreeing to sign anything for your employer. If you require more time than is allowed according to the current deadline for the return of the letter, we would advise that you ask for an extension from your employer.
The Lawyers at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP
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