The Government of the Northwest Territories has amended the Employment Standards Act and Regulations to provide protection to NWT workers and flexibility to employers during the COVID-19 pandemic and future emergencies. These changes come into effect July 1, 2021.
These changes include the establishment of Emergency Leave, 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 ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.
Entitlement to Emergency Leave for COVID-19 is retroactive to March 18, 2020, when the territory-wide Public Health Emergency was declared under the NWT Public Health Act. 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. To find out if you have grounds to file a complaint, please contact the Employment Standards Office by phone (867) 767-9351 ext 71469 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss your situation. Complaints for terminations due to COVID-19 that occurred between March 18, 2020 and June 30, 2021 must be received by the Employment Standards Office by January 2, 2022.
These amendments are necessary for encouraging workers to comply with public health orders and best practices and allowing NWT workers to access recovery benefits under the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Response Measures Act.
The second set of amendments provides flexibility to NWT employers when an unforeseeable event or circumstance beyond their control prevents them from respecting the relevant notice period in the Act. The Act now includes an exception to the legislated requirement to provide notice of group termination to the Employment Standards Officer and any applicable union when the employer can demonstrate the circumstances were beyond their control.
Employers will still be required to provide notice of group termination to the Employment Standards Officer and any applicable union as soon as possible, and employees will retain their entitlement to individual notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice (termination pay).
“Through these amendments, the Government of the Northwest Territories is reinforcing its commitment to providing protection to NWT workers and flexibility to employers during the COVID-19 pandemic and future emergencies. 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, and ensure employers aren’t penalised for circumstances outside of their control.”
- R. J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment
- The Employment Standards Act and Regulations set out minimum employment standards in the NWT and ensure job protection for workers. The legislation applies to most employees and employers that perform work in the Northwest Territories, excluding::
- Federal Government Employees
- GNWT Employees
- Workers in federally regulated industries such as airlines, banks, and most telecommunications operations
- Eligible NWT workers are able to access federal recovery benefits while on emergency leave related to COVID-19. The Government of Canada increased the number of weeks of benefits available for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits until September 25, 2021.
- Employees will retain their entitlement to individual termination notice or pay in lieu of notice (termination pay).
For media requests, please contact:
Communications and Public Affairs
Education, Culture and Employment
Government of the Northwest Territories