WINNIPEG -- The province is putting in a temporary exception to employment standard regulations to give employers more time to recall employees laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Scott Fielding made the announcement Friday afternoon.

Under the changes, any period of layoff occurring after March 1, 2020, and until the end of the declared state of emergency, will not be counted toward the period after which a temporary layoff would become a permanent termination.

The current employment standards legislation says employees who have been laid off for eight or more weeks in a 16-week period are determined to have been terminated and are entitled to wages in lieu of notice.

“This will provide, really, a continuity for businesses when they’re able to reopen at a normal staffing level,” Fielding said.

Fielding said the measure is temporary and specific to situations where employees will be rehired after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

He said labour and business were both consulted on the plan, and they support it.

“They get to keep the employee on within their realm, and provide some certainty for the employee who can come back after the crisis has subsided,” Fielding said.