Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 25 - Section 3

25.3.0 Structure of a Work-Sharing claim

Structure of a claim refers to the basic elements of a claim, such as:

  • the requirement that an interruption of earnings occurs
  • the number of hours of insurable employment to qualify for benefits
  • calculation of weeks of entitlement
  • earnings used to calculate a benefit rate, and
  • the length of the benefit period

For the most part, the structure of a Work-Sharing claim is the same as any other EI claim. Chapter 1 of this Digest contains more detailed information about the general requirements to establish a benefit period. However, the key difference when establishing a benefit period for Work-Sharing benefits is the definition of an interruption of earnings.

25.3.1 Type of benefits

A Work-Sharing agreement will be approved only if all employees in the Work-Sharing unit agree to work a reduced work schedule. However, employees are not required to apply for EI benefits. Moreover, employees who chose to apply for EI benefits do not have to apply for Work-Sharing benefits. Occasionally, it is more to a claimant’s advantage to claim regular benefits. This must be examined on a case-by-case basis, with attention to the differing requirements to establish an interruption of earnings, serve a waiting period, be available for other work, and the impact of earnings from the Work-Sharing employment on benefits payable. Claimants decide whether they wish to establish the claim for Work-Sharing or for regular benefits.

When claimants establish a claim for Work-Sharing benefits, they may be able to collect other types of benefits in weeks during which they do not work for the Work-Sharing employer.

25.3.2 Basic qualification requirements

Regardless of the type of benefits requested, a claim can be established only when:

  • there is an interruption of earnings, and
  • the insured person has accumulated a sufficient number of hours of insurable employment in their qualifying period, to establish a benefit period

25.3.3 Interruption of earnings

For the purpose of establishing a benefit period for Work-Sharing benefits, an interruption of earnings occurs in the week in which the claimant’s earnings are reduced by at least 10% of their normal weekly earnings (EIR 43). This normally happens in the first week of the Work-Sharing agreement, although there may be exceptions. The employer must issue a record of employment based on the last pay period of full time work before the Work-Sharing agreement starts. Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the Commission presumes the interruption of earnings occurred in the following week.

25.3.4 Benefit period

The benefit period is the 52 week period beginning with the start date of the claim. It is within this timeframe that weeks of benefits to which a claimant is entitled may be paid (Digest 1.2.0). Benefit period extension - General

Subsection 10(10) of the EIA provides authority to extend the benefit period for weeks when the claimant was not entitled to benefits because of the following reasons (Digest 1.5.0):

  • incarceration, and later not found guilty
  • receipt of earnings due to a complete severance from their employer
  • receipt of workers’ compensation payments for an illness or injury
  • receipt of preventative withdrawal payments (province of Quebec), or
  • any combination of the above Benefit period extension for payment of special benefits

An extension under subsection 10(13) of the EIA may be granted to allow the payment of sickness, maternity, parental, compassionate care or family caregiver benefits. These extensions only apply when the claimant has not been paid any regular benefits during their benefit period (other than Work-Sharing benefits). Only the type of benefits already paid prior to the benefit period being extended, can be paid during the extended portion of the benefit period (Digest 1.5.2). Benefit period extension due to Work-Sharing

The purpose of Work-Sharing is to support workers who agree to work shorter hours in order to preserve their own, and other jobs, and to maintain their skills. Part of the intent is to ensure that the receipt of Work-Sharing benefits does not prevent a claimant from collecting regular or special benefits within their benefit period, if needed. As such, EIR 45 allows the benefit period to be extended by one week for every week of Work-Sharing in that benefit period. This means that when the Work-Sharing claim ends, there is still a window of time in which a claimant may collect other benefits.

25.3.5 Hours needed to establish a benefit period

There are no special provisions regarding the hours a claimant requires in order to establish a Work-Sharing benefit period; therefore, the provisions of section 7 of the EIA apply. Claimants applying for Work-Sharing benefits must accumulate the same number of hours of insurable employment as they would need to establish a claim for regular benefits, based on the unemployment rate in the area in which they live. Further, claimants who have received a violation will require a greater number of hours to establish a Work-Sharing claim (EIA 7.1). Violations range from minor to subsequent, with a varied increase in the number of hours required to qualify for benefits. Further information on the number of hours required to establish a benefit period is available in section 1.2.2 of this Digest.

25.3.6 Weeks of entitlement

The number of weeks of regular benefits, to which a claimant may be entitled, is determined at the time a claim is calculated; this includes claims for Work-Sharing benefits. The number of weeks is based on the number of hours of insurable employment accumulated in the claimant’s qualifying period, and the rate of unemployment in the area in which they reside.

A week in which Work-Sharing benefits are paid does not reduce the number of weeks a claimant may later receive. For example, after a number of weeks of Work-Sharing benefits, an employer may experience a complete shutdown and lay off all workers for a short period. The weeks of Work-Sharing already paid to these workers will not reduce the number of weeks of regular benefits that could be paid on their claim. Similarly, weeks of Work-Sharing do not normally affect a claimant’s entitlement to special benefits (sickness, maternity, parental, compassionate care or family caregiver benefits).

However, if a claimant claims and receives weeks of regular benefits, the total weeks payable, as determined when the benefit period was established, will be reduced accordingly.

25.3.7 Benefit rate

The rules for calculating the benefit rate for a Work-Sharing claim are the same as for any other claim (Digest 1.9.3).

25.3.8 Waiting period

Generally, a one-week waiting period must be served on a claim before benefits can be paid. The waiting period is deferred for Work-Sharing participants, until a week that is not a Work-Sharing week is processed as a week of regular or special benefits. This could occur either during the period of the Work-Sharing agreement, or once the agreement has terminated.

25.3.9 Claimant reports

Generally, claimants receiving EI benefits must complete bi-weekly claimant’s reports in order to receive benefits. Work-Sharing participants who complete bi-weekly claimant’s reports must report any earnings that are not from Work-Sharing employment, and provide the name of the employer from which the earnings are received. These earnings must be reported separately from Work-Sharing earnings. The claimant must also notify the Commission of any separation from employment and the reasons for the separation.

Claimants on a Work-Sharing claim may be exempted from completing bi-weekly reports. Claimants who wish to be exempt from bi-weekly reporting may indicate this while completing their online application for Work-Sharing benefits. They may also request that the exemption be applied or canceled by contacting the Commission by telephone, by mail, or in person. Claimants participating in a Work-Sharing agreement who work for any employer, other than a Work-Sharing employer, cannot be exempted from reporting.

When clients are exempt from reporting, they must advise the Commission of any income earned while they received Work-Sharing benefits, other than from a Work-Sharing employer, as well as any other situation that may affect their entitlement.

Benefits are paid only after the information provided by the claimant is matched to the Work-Sharing employer’s declarations.

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