Work-Sharing program for employers - Temporary special measures for COVID-19 overview

Please note that this page is temporary and will be removed in the near future. You can now refer to the Work-Sharing Program site.

On this page

Work-Sharing is an Employment Insurance (EI) program that helps employers and employees avoid layoffs. The program allows employers to retain skilled employees when there is a temporary decrease in business activity beyond the control of the employer.

Temporary special measures

  • Extension of the maximum possible duration of an agreement from 38 week 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
  • Reduce the previous requirements for a recovery plan to a single line of text within the application form
  • Reduce the requirement and expand eligibility to employers affected by accepting business who have been in business for only 1 year rather than 2, and eliminate the burden of having to provide sales/production figures at the same time
  • Expand eligibility for staff who are essential to recovery, Government Business Enterprises (GBEs) and non-for-profit organization employers


  • You have you been in business for at least 1 year
  • You have 2 or more employees that are normally year-round permanent, full or part time that are 'core' staff for your business
  • Your employees are eligible and willing to receive Employment Insurance benefits and agree to a reduction in hours to share any available work
  • Your business is a publicly held company or a private business
  • You are a Government Business Enterprises (GBEs), also referred to as public corporation
  • You are a not-for-profit employer experiencing a shortage of work due to a reduction of business activity and/or a reduction in revenue levels due to COVID-19

If you were able to identify yourself in the above mentioned statements, you may be eligible for the Work-Sharing special measures for COVID-19.

Ineligible employers:

Your business is not eligible for Work-Sharing if it is experiencing a reduction in business activity due to:

  • a labour dispute
  • a seasonal shortage of work
  • a recent increase in the size of the workforce
  • self employed

And if you are a:

  • shareholder who is responsible for the direction of the company and who holds 40% and more of the voting shares
  • employer who operates solely for the purpose of carrying out the administration of a government program/activity that is purely government in nature. For example:
    • municipalities
    • government agencies

Duration of a Work-Sharing agreement

Work-Sharing is a temporary measure. Usually, Work-Sharing agreements can be a minimum of 6 weeks and a maximum of 26 weeks in duration.

A temporary special measure for COVID-19 has been put in place providing a maximum of 76 weeks to all businesses across Canada that are directly or indirectly impacted by the downturn in business due to COVID-19.

The Government of Canada has extended the COVID-19 temporary special measures to September 26, 2021:

  • your agreement must begin or end between March 15, 2020 and September 26, 2021
  • your agreement must be signed between March 15, 2020 and September 25, 2021. The start date must be no later than September 26, 2021
  • if your agreement ended between June 23, 2019 and March 14, 2020, you do not need to serve a mandatory waiting period between agreements

All businesses can benefit from a total of 76 weeks under the COVID-19 temporary special measures regardless of how many weeks they have used prior to March 14, 2020.

How to apply

To submit a request for a new agreement or for an extension, you must submit the following documents:

Submit your application

Please send your application to one of the following email addresses, based on the area your business is located.

Atlantic Provinces






Western Canada and Territories


Service Canada will acknowledge in writing the receipt of the application.

Contact us


Employer Contact Centre

For more information on the Work-Sharing Program, employers across Canada may contact the Employer Contact Centre:

Hours of operation: 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, Eastern Time, Monday to Friday.

Canada and the United States

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

Outside Canada and the United States

Telephone: 506-546-7569 (collect calls accepted)

Employer Inquiry Unit

Service Canada has created an inquiry unit for employers affected by COVID-19 that are seeking general information related to the Work-Sharing Program. Inquiries can be sent to


Employment Insurance Call Centre

For general questions about their Work-Sharing EI benefits and payments, employees can call the Employment Insurance Call Centre. Please note that for privacy reasons, Service Canada is unable to disclose information specific to an employee’s file to employers.


  • English: 1-800-206-7218
  • French: 1-800-808-6352
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