A Work-Sharing agreement helps employers and employees avoid layoffs when:
- there is a temporary decrease in the normal level of business activity, and
- the decrease is beyond the control of the employer
The agreement provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers.
A Work-Sharing agreement is a tri-party agreement involving employers, employees and Service Canada.
Employees on a Work-Sharing agreement must agree to:
- a reduced schedule of work, and
- share the available work over a specified period of time
The employer and the employees involved (and the union, if applicable) must agree to participate in a Work-Sharing agreement. Then the employer applies to participate in a Work-Sharing agreement.
COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus)
The Government of Canada has put in place Work-Sharing special measures for employers affected by the downturn in business related to COVID-19.
Special measures are effective March 15, 2020 to September 24, 2022.
These measures extend the duration of Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks. That brings the total to 76 weeks (regardless of how many weeks a business has used prior to March 14, 2020) followed by a possible new 26-week subsequent agreement.
Initial 76-week agreement
Employers can benefit from a 76-week agreement if their Work-Sharing agreement:
- is at least 6 consecutive weeks long
- is signed between March 15, 2020 and September 24, 2022, with an agreement start date no later than September 25, 2022
- begins, or ends between March 15, 2020 and September 25, 2022
Employers can benefit from a 76-week agreement under COVID-19 special measures once.
Subsequent 26-week agreement
Businesses that completed a 76-week agreement under COVID-19 special measures by September 24, 2022 can start a new subsequent 26-week agreement immediately after or anytime up to September 25, 2022 (without serving a mandatory cooling off period).
- Agreement length and extension: A Work-Sharing agreement has to be at least 6 consecutive weeks long
- The latest date employers can start a subsequent 26-week agreement is September 25, 2022
At the end of the subsequent 26-week agreement, a mandatory 26-week cooling-off period must be served before being eligible to enter a new agreement.
Agreement terminated early - How to claim unused weeks
Employers who have terminated a COVID-19 special measures agreement (76 week or 26 week) early can apply to use the balance of the unused weeks from their terminated agreement provided the new agreement for the remaining unused weeks is:
- a minimum of 6 weeks in duration, and
- signed no later than September 24, 2022, and
- begins no later than September 25, 2022
Employers who have benefited from an agreement under the COVID-19 special measures and who apply on or after September 25, 2022 will have to serve a cooling-off period of 26 weeks before they can start a new agreement under the regular Work-Sharing program.
Once the 76 and 26 weeks agreements have ended, a 26-week cooling-off period must be served.
Note: Employers must submit the application a minimum of 10 business days prior to the requested start date.
Additional flexibilities included in the COVID-19 special measures
- The cooling off period between agreements is waived
- A recovery plan is no longer required. Employers must answer the question found in box 25 of the Work-Sharing application form (What recovery measures will your business be undertaking during the period of the agreement?) For example:
- cost-cutting measures
- product development
- For employers affected, eligibility is extended to those who have been in business for 1 year rather than 2
- No longer need to provide sales/production figures
- Eligibility is extended to the following:
- to staff (employees) who are essential to the recovery of the business
- to Government Business Enterprises, and
- to non-for-profit organization employers
- Employers must submit the application forms 10 business days prior to the requested start date reduced from 30 calendar days prior to COVID-19
- Under COVID-19, wet signatures are no longer required. Typed names in the Work-Sharing application form (EMP5100) and Work-Sharing agreement are accepted as signatures
Steel and aluminum sector
To support businesses affected by the downturn in the steel and aluminum sector, special measures were effective from August 19, 2018 to March 27, 2021.
To support businesses affected by the downturn in the forestry sector, special measures were effective from July 30, 2017 to March 28, 2020.
To support businesses affected by the wildfires in Fort McMurray, special measures were effective between May 4, 2016 and May 4, 2017.
To support employers affected by the downturn in the commodities sector, special measures were effective between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017.
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