Canada’s “Work-Sharing” program is an adjustment program, which may offer relief and an alternative to employers financially impacted by COVID-19, including those experiencing a slow down in business, but who continue to operate at some level.

The program is intended to assist employers to avoid layoffs, particularly during this pandemic, if the employer experiences a temporary reduction in the usual amount of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer, as may be the case with COVID-19. 

The program involves a three-party agreement between the employer, the employees and Service Canada.

Work-sharing allows employees to work reduced hours and share work equally between one another.

The other key aspects of the program are:

  • the employer must apply to the program at least thirty days in advance of the start date of the program;

  • the employees will be eligible for benefits through the program if they agree to work reduced hours;

  • there must be at least two employees willing to share job duties;

  • the employer must be: a publicly-held company; a private enterprise or a non-profit organization, which must in business for at least one year, reduced from 2 years due to COVID-19;

  • the employer must demonstrate a temporary work shortage, beyond their control, of 10% or more;

  • the employees undergoing work shortages must be “core employees” (i.e., not seasonal, casual employees);  

  • the mandatory “cooling-off” period, where an employer cannot re-enter a work sharing agreement with the same employees, has been waived temporarily due to COVID-19; and  

  • the maximum duration of the work sharing has been increased from 38 weeks to 76 weeks due to COVID-19.

Employees who participate in the program who do the same, or substantially similar, work will become part of the "Work-Sharing unit".

Employees in a Work-Sharing unit can have their hours reduced by up to 60%. 

To apply to the program, employers must submit:

  • the application for work sharing;

  • the attachment to the application (PDF or Excel); and

  • a recovery plan, which must demonstrate that the employer will implement activities during the period of the work-sharing agreement to alleviate the work shortage in order to return the work-sharing unit(s) to normal working hours by the end of the agreement.

Employees eligible to participate are those who:

  • are "core" employees, meaning they are permanent full-time or part-time employees who are required to carry out the everyday functions of normal business activity, and not seasonal or casual employees/students;

  • are eligible to receive EI benefits; and

  • agree to a reduction in their normal working hours in order to share work.

More information is available here:

Thank you for reading this - Jason Ward of WARDS LAWYERS PC.

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This WARDS LAWYERS PC blog is for general information only. It is not legal advice, or intended to be. Specific or more information may be necessary before advice could be provided for your circumstances.

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