Forum Forum Covid-19: Business Resources Work-Sharing Program extension (WS)

  • Work-Sharing Program extension (WS)

  • Rodney

    May 19, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    Hello, I have a question related the work-sharing program. How does it work during this period? Are there any benefits for an employer applying for this program? How many hours of an employee’s work schedule can be reduced and how long can it last? Are there any limits on types of business that can apply? Thanks in advance.

  • Laura

    May 19, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    Hello Rodney, thank you for your questions.

    Work-sharing is a federal program designed to help eligible employers avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity (that is beyond the control of the employer)

    The program provides Employment Insurance (EI) benefits to eligible employees who agree to reduce their normal working hours and share the available work while their employer recovers.

    Work-Sharing is an agreement between employers, employees and the Government of Canada (Service Canada)

    Beyond the obvious benefit of preventing mass lay-offs, the main benefits of WS are:

    For employers:

    • retain
      qualified and experienced workers
    • avoid
      recruiting and training new employees

    For employees:

    • keep their jobs while ensuring work
      skills are retained
    • receive
      EI benefits to supplement their wages during the production slowdown

    Expected work reduction: A WS unit must reduce its hours of work by at least 10% to 60%. The reduction of hours can vary from week to week, as long as the average reduction over the course of the agreement is from 10% to 60%.

    As a special covid-19 measure, the program has been extended to a maximum possible duration of an agreement from 38 weeks to 76 weeks

    The program is effective March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021, and it is not limited to one specific sector or industry.

  • Rodney

    May 19, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    Hi Laura, Can you also tell me the eligibility criteria? And how exactly to apply? Thanks again.

    • Laura

      May 19, 2020 at 10:12 pm

      Hello again,

      As mentioned above, Work-Sharing is an agreement between employers, employees and the Service Canada

      The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.

      Eligible Employers:

      • a year-round business in Canada for at least 1 year (special measure during COVID-19 – expanded eligibility to employers who have been in business for only 1 year rather than 2)

      • a private business, publicly held company as well a non-for-profit organization (special measure during COVID-19 – expanded eligibility for staff who are essential to recovery, Government Business Enterprises (GBEs) and non-for-profit organization employers)

      • have at least 2 employees in the work-share unit, with similar job duties who agree to reduce their hours of work over a specific period of time.

      Eligible Employees:

      • a year-round, permanent, full-time or part-time employee needed to carry out the day-to-day functions of the business (your “core staff”).

      • eligible to receive EI benefits

      • agree to reduce their normal working hours by the same percentage and to share the available work.

      Special measures during COVID-19:

      • Extension
        of the maximum possible duration of an agreement from 38 weeks to 76 weeks
      • Mandatory cooling off period has been waived for
        employers who have already used the Work-Sharing program so that eligible
        employers may immediately enter into a new agreement
      • Employers are now requested to submit their applications 10 calendar days prior to the requested start date (typically, applications must be submitted at least 30 days in advance)
      • Reduce the previous requirements for a Recovery
        Plan to a single line of text in the application form; as well as eliminate
        the burden of having to provide sales/production figures

      How to apply?

      The WS program application process has been simplified due to COVID-19. Employers are no longer required to provide a detailed recovery plan or have their employees sign the WS Unit form.

      To apply for the Work-Sharing program, employers must submit:

      Send all your enquiries and application form requests to the Service Canada generic mailbox specific for Work-Sharing Program:


      Toll-free: 1-800-367-5693; TTY: 1-855-881-9874


      I hope this helps, Rodney.

      All the best.

      • Rodney

        May 19, 2020 at 10:17 pm

        So how much will an employee receive as wages, during the work-share agreement?

        • Laura

          May 19, 2020 at 10:23 pm

          The employer continues to pay, from their payroll, the wages to employees for the hours they worked, as per normal. The employer also completes the Utilization Report, so that Employment Insurance (EI) is aware of the work hours that employees missed. The employees are paid directly from EI for the percentage of their benefit rate that corresponds with the percentage of the work hours they missed.

          For example, if the employee missed 50% of their normal weekly hours due to WS, they would receive 50% of their benefit rate from EI. Their benefit rate will not be equivalent to their normal wages, as it is generally 55% of their average weekly earnings to a maximum of $573 per week (for 2020).

  • Jerry

    May 19, 2020 at 10:27 pm

    What would happen if by chance an employee is laid off after the business did not recover as expected, how would this affect his EI benefits?

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by  Jerry.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by  Jerry.
    • Laura

      May 19, 2020 at 10:37 pm

      Hi Jerry,

      Thanks for reaching out. As per the government website, work-sharing agreements don’t affect eligibility to regular EI benefits if the employee gets laid off after the agreement ends.

      If the business does not recover as expected and an employee is laid off during or at the end of a Work-Sharing Agreement, the employee can apply to transfer the claim to regular benefits. The duration of the regular claim would be extended by the number of weeks the employee had participated in Work-Sharing. The benefit rate and the normal duration of the claim would not be reduced as a result of the worker having participated in Work-Sharing.

      For more information, please visit or talk to someone from Service Canada @ Email:

      Hope this helps.


      • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by  Laura.
  • Jonathon

    May 20, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    I have a question as well on this… <font face=”inherit”>We have recently negotiated a work-share agreement. However, we were able to see an increase in workload since we signed the agreement, so the employees from work-share unit have very little time off. We may still see further loss of hours, depending on customer demands. Can we keep all employees currently in the work-share agreement </font>continue<font face=”inherit”> working full time, and have them take more time off later in the term of the agreement? Thanks .</font>

    • Laura

      May 20, 2020 at 10:17 pm

      Hello Jonathon, thank you for your question! It’s great news the fact that you are seeing an increase in work!

      It sounds like you have not yet implemented the work share program. If so, you should contact Service Canada to indicate the change in business and request a “delayed start” to the program. If you are already on work share, there is a “utilization report” that employers must complete and submit each week to Service Canada, indicating the number of hours worked by each employee participating in work sharing. Service Canada would be in contact with you upon receipt of these to discuss any concerns with staying in the program.

      It’s important to keep in mind that any of the he employer, employees or Service Canada have the right to terminate the agreement at any time.

      Best of luck 🙂

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