Canada’s Work-Sharing program provides income support to employees working a temporarily decreased workweek during a period of reduced business activity. Effective March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021, the Work-Sharing program is taking temporary action to support employers affected by the downturn caused by COVID-19. These enhancements are for all sectors and industries.

Updates to the WS Program include:

  • Applications can be submitted a minimum of 10 calendar days prior to the requested start date
  • Extension of the maximum WS duration possible from 38 weeks to 76 weeks
  • WS income support to employees eligible for employment insurance (EI) and processed through the EI payment system
  • The expected work reduction is from a minimum of 10% to a maximum of 60%. The reduction of hours can vary from week to week if the average reduction over the course of the agreement is from 10% to 60%
  • The mandatory waiting period has been waived for employers who have already used the WS program so that eligible employers may immediately enter into a new agreement
  • Employers, employees, and unions must all agree to apply to WS and working hours (equal sharing of work)
  • A utilization report must be submitted weekly for payment and the first payment will take up to three to four weeks
  • There is no retroactive pay – therefore, it is imperative you get your Work-Sharing application in ASAP

Eligible Employers

To be eligible for a Work-Sharing arrangement, employers must:

  • Demonstrate a recent decrease in business activity by 10%
  • Demonstrate that the work shortage is temporary and beyond their control
  • Be a for-profit or not-for-profit organization operating year-round in Canada for at least one year. (This is a COVID-19 upgrade; typically, businesses are to be operating for at least two years).

Eligible Employees

To be eligible for a Work-Sharing arrangement, employees must:

  • Be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits
  • Agree to a reduction of normal working hours and share the available work hours
  • Be “core employees” (year-round, permanent, full-time, or part-time employees needed to carry out the day-to-day functions of the business)

How to apply

To access the Work-Sharing program, employers must submit an application, recovery plan, and other mandatory forms.

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