Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 25 – Section 9

25.9.0 Claimant stops work during a Work-Sharing agreement

There are many reasons why a claimant may not work for an employer while being part of a Work-Sharing unit. For example:

  • there is no work in the week because of the same conditions that led to the Work-Sharing agreement in the first place
  • the claimant is laid off temporarily or permanently
  • the plant closes temporarily, but the Work-Sharing agreement remains intact (the closure is approved by a program officer who keeps the Work-Sharing agreement intact for the period of closure)
  • the workplace closes permanently or for an indefinite period
  • an individual voluntarily stops working, by either quitting the employment or taking an authorized leave of absence
  • the claimant is dismissed due to alleged misconduct, or
  • the claimant is suspended due to alleged misconduct

These reasons fall into 2 main categories:

  • individuals who stop working for the Work-Sharing employer, or
  • there is a total work stoppage in the workplace (layoff, shutdown, etc.)

If the claimant subsequently requests another kind of benefits, the claim may be renewed and any issues of entitlement or qualification must be considered before regular or special benefits can be paid. In this case, the claimant is no longer affiliated with the Work-Sharing employment.

In the event of a total work stoppage in the workplace, this may trigger the cancellation of the Work-Sharing agreement, or a period of lay-off may be approved by the program officer, and the Work-Sharing agreement kept active until work resumes. The program officer retains sole authority regarding whether a Work-Sharing agreement will continue during a period of total shutdown. The Commission’s only concern is to ensure the thorough review of the claimant’s circumstances and the correct processing of requests for other types of benefits.

25.9.1 Work-Sharing agreement ends

At the time an employer applies for a Work-Sharing agreement, they must agree to and aim for a reduction of between a minimum of 10% and a maximum of 60% in the employees’ regular work schedule, over the term of the agreement.

Work-Sharing agreements may end because the employer has fully resumed operations and the agreement is no longer needed. Generally, the Commission will modify the end date of the agreement for all participants in the Work-Sharing agreement. No further action will be required of the claimants or of the Commission.

A Work-Sharing agreement may also be terminated if the average loss of hours exceeds the 60% limit for several weeks. Again, this is determined by the program officer. If this is the case, the end date of the Work-Sharing agreement will be modified on the claimants’ files. In these situations, there is a possibility that the employer may lay off some of the employees. These individuals can apply to convert their Work-Sharing claims to regular or special benefits, depending on their needs. As this conversion does not happen automatically, claimants must contact the Commission if they wish to claim other benefit types.

25.9.2 Work-Sharing agreement remains intact

In times of economic downturn, a Work-Sharing employer may anticipate a period of lay-off. The program officer will assess the situation and may choose to maintain the agreement over the length of the closure.

25.9.2.1 Individual layoffs

Since the goal of Work-Sharing agreements is to prevent individual lay-offs by distributing the loss of employment throughout the affected unit, it is unusual to see a participating employee being laid off due to a shortage of work. However, it is possible. In situations where a claimant is removed from the Work-Sharing agreement, it is the program officer’s responsibility to decide if the conditions warrant review of the agreement itself, to ensure the requirements continue to be met.

25.9.2.2 Temporary plant shutdowns

Temporary shut-downs may occur inadvertently because there is no work over a 1 or 2 week period, or the employer may anticipate a slowdown of longer duration and plan for a controlled closure.

When the employer anticipates a period without any work, they may consult with the program officer who is authorized to approve a period of complete lay-off, while keeping the Work-Sharing agreement formally in place.

When there is an unexpected loss of work, and therefore the employees do not work at all in a given week, there can be no loss of hours due to the Work-Sharing agreement. The week will be processed as a week of regular or special benefits.

While participating in a Work-Sharing agreement, a claimant may be entitled to collect regular or special benefits when a week does not meet the definition of a week of Work-Sharing. When requesting a week of regular benefits, a claimant involved in a Work-Sharing agreement must meet the same conditions of availability as any other claimant.

When dealing with shorter periods without work, generally between 1 and 4 weeks, passive availability may be accepted; that is, claimants must be willing to accept full or part time work with other employers, either temporarily or permanently. If there are longer periods of shut down, claimants must be made aware of the requirement to actively seek and accept any offer of suitable employment. As long as these claimants make reasonable and customary efforts to find other work during the lay-off period, they will not be disentitled.

25.9.3 Voluntary leaving, leave of absence, suspension, dismissal

In situations where a claimant in receipt of Work-Sharing benefits voluntarily quits their employment, takes a leave of absence, or is suspended or dismissed from employment, including from a non-Work-Sharing employer, normal adjudication principles apply. Depending on the reason(s) for the separation from employment, claimants could be subject to disqualification or disentitlement from benefits. The digest contains chapters that discuss these reasons for separation from employment, including how they are adjudicated and the impact they have on a claim for benefits (Digest 6; Digest 7).

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