Applicant guide: Temporary special measures for COVID-19

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

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Introduction

Work-Sharing is an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees 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 income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers.

Work-Sharing is a three-party agreement involving employers, employees and Service Canada. Employees participating in a Work-Sharing agreement must agree to a reduced schedule of work and to share the available work over a specified period of time.

The goal of the Work-Sharing program is to avoid layoffs and for all participating employees to return to normal working hours by the end of the agreement.

It is important to understand the Work-Sharing eligibility criteria and program terms and conditions before applying. Please read all the information provided in this document and discuss it with your employees.

The employer and the employees (and the union, if applicable) must agree to participate in a Work-Sharing agreement and must apply together.

Eligibility criteria

Eligible employers

To be eligible for a Work-Sharing agreement, the employer must:

  • be a publicly held company, or
    • a publicly held company is a for-profit company whereby its shares/stocks are owned by the general public. Public sector employers, including government or publicly-owned corporations, such as crown corporations, are not eligible for Work-Sharing benefits
  • be a private business, not-for-profit organization, or
    • for a not-for-profit employer to be eligible, they must be experiencing a shortage of work due to a reduction of business activity and/or a reduction in revenue levels due to COVID-19. The shortage of work must be associated with a reduction in the organization’s normal level of business activity due to COVID-19. Business activity is defined as the selling of goods or services with an objective to earning profit. A reduction in revenue levels also meets Work-Sharing eligibility criteria, under COVID-19. For example:
      • grants
      • donations
      • memberships
  • be Government Business Enterprise (GBEs),
    • GBEs can access the program. GBEs include crown corporations, state-owned enterprises, universities, public transit groups, and other employers that are technically public corporations, but run as profit-oriented entities, and/or do not rely solely on public funds to operate and compete in the marketplace. For example:
      • Lottery and Gaming Corporations (OLG)
      • public universities and colleges
      • public transit groups
  • have been in business year-round in Canada for at least 1 year
  • demonstrate that the work shortage is temporary and beyond their control, and is not a cyclical/recurring slowdown; and, have at least 2 employees participating in the Work-Sharing unit

Note: A franchise will be treated as a stand-alone business.

Ineligible employers

  • Employers who are self-employed
  • Employers experiencing a reduction in business activity related to a labour dispute
    • A labour dispute includes:
      • work slowdowns
      • strikes
      • lockouts, and
      • work stoppages

Companies that are experiencing a reduction in business activity attributable to a labour dispute at a component, division, branch or subsidiary of that same company are also ineligible. As well, a Work-Sharing application cannot be approved when the work reduction is solely attributable to a labour dispute at 1 of the company’s major suppliers or customers.

  • Employers experiencing a reduction in business activity due to a recurring production slowdown.seasonal shortage of work or any other recurring production slowdown; the Work-Sharing program is not intended as a remedy for a pre-existing and on-going condition
  • Employers experiencing a decrease in business activity directly related to an increase in the workforce
    • For  example, if a company decides to increase the number of employees from 50 to 100 in September and there is a shortage of work in December, whereby there is only enough work for half of the employees. In a case like this, the current employment level would not support a normal level of business activity. The additional employees hired in September would not be considered core employees and would therefore not be eligible to participate in the Work-Sharing program
  • Employers that operate solely for the purposes of carrying out the administration of government programs and activities that are purely governmental in nature. For example:
    • City of Ottawa
    • Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA)
    • Bank of Canada
  • Business owners who are legally responsible for the business and who hold significant decision-making power

Eligible employees

Employees included in a Work-Sharing agreement must:

  • be "core employees"
    • (for example, year round permanent full-time or part-time employees who are required to carry out the everyday functions of normal business activity)
  • agree to a reduction of their normal working hours
    • reduction must be by the same percentage as other employees of the Work-Sharing unit, in order to share the available work
  • be eligible to receive Employment Insurance benefits

Although members of the Work-Sharing unit must qualify to receive Employment Insurance benefits, eligibility cannot be determined until after members have actually filed for benefits. Therefore, all members of a Work-Sharing unit are considered eligible for benefits unless they are told otherwise by an Employment Insurance official. Employees are not required to inform their employer of the status of their eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits.

Temporary (for example, term or contract) employees are only eligible if they are not employed on a seasonal basis and if they have maintained hours similar to permanent full-time or part-time employees within the last 12 months.

Core employees who were laid off prior to the agreement start date are eligible to participate.

A minimum of 2 employees are required for a Work-Sharing agreement.

In the context of COVID-19, employees now considered essential to the recovery and viability of the business are now considered be eligible to participate in Work-Sharing. Examples of employees now eligible includes:

  • inside and outside sales responsible for recovery
  • technical employees engaged in product development
  • executive marketing and sales agents responsible for recovery
  • senior management responsible for recovery, and
  • shareholders who have a role in recovery/investors

Note: employees who are major shareholders (over 40%) in the business and hold significant decision-making power as to the direction of the company are not eligible to participate in the WS program.

Ineligible employees

  • Self-employed individuals
  • Seasonal employees and students hired for the summer or for a co-op term
  • Employees hired on a casual or on-call basis or through a temporary help agency
  • Employee shareholders who own over 40% of voting shares, and
    • A person who controls over 40% of the voting shares of a company does not qualify for Employment Insurance as per the Employment Insurance Act. Any employee in this position is consequently not eligible to participate in Work-Sharing
  • Employees with significant decision-making power as to the direction of the company

Work-Sharing unit

A Work-Sharing unit is a group of core employees who have agreed to participate in the Work-Sharing program and to equally reduce their normal working hours. A Work-Sharing agreement may include more than one Work-Sharing unit. Some larger employers may have Work-Sharing agreements that are comprised of several Work-Sharing units, included in separate Attachment A forms (EMP5101), with different job descriptions or from different departments.

The unit generally includes all employees in a single job description or all employees who perform similar work. Employees who do different work but whose jobs impact one another (for example, slowdown in business affects 1 job resulting in less work for another job or jobs) may form one Work-Sharing unit provided that all employees can reduce their hours equally. Furthermore, in the instance where a business has a lower number of employees, it is acceptable to only have 1 Work-Sharing unit that includes employees with different job descriptions.

There must be a minimum of 2 employees in a Work-Sharing unit.

Equal sharing of work

All members of a Work-Sharing unit must agree to the same reduction of their normal work hours and to share the available work. If, during the period of the Work-Sharing agreement, work activity increases, the additional hours of work must be shared equally among all members of the unit. For example, a group of machine operators and a group of shipper/receivers can only form part of the same Work-Sharing unit if both groups share the available work and reduce their hours equally (for example, by having the same percentage of reduction in work hours). It is easier to ensure an equal reduction of work for employees that perform different job duties if they are divided into separate units.

Individual employees who share the same job description cannot volunteer to participate in Work-Sharing while others decline to participate and continue to work normal hours. Members of a Work-Sharing unit who do not qualify for or who (for personal reasons) choose not to accept Employment Insurance benefits are still required to reduce their hours of work on an equivalent basis.

There may also be employees who are not eligible for EI benefits and would like to be included in the Work-Sharing unit. The work hours of these employees must be reduced by the same percentage as those in the Work-Sharing unit who receive Work-Sharing benefits. If, at a later time, employees who initially did not quality for EI benefits accumulate enough hours to qualify for EI benefits, they may be added to the Work-Sharing unit for the remainder of the agreement duration.

In the context of a unionized work environment, there must be an equal reduction of hours and sharing of all available work amongst members of a Work-Sharing unit regardless of any seniority clauses in a collective agreement.

Employer representative

The employer must designate an employer representative that has signing authority for the business. The individual chosen to be an employer representative has to be authorized by the employer to report on behalf of the company to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). This person must not be part of the WS unit due to their responsibilities related to the agreement. It is important employers carefully read though the Employer Responsibilities guide as it will provide you with helpful information on your responsibilities towards your employees, and obligations for managing your Work-Sharing agreement.

Employee/union representative

The members of each Work-Sharing unit must authorize an employee who will represent them in the agreement. The employee representative must be a member of the Work-Sharing unit. However, under COVID-19 special measures, additional flexibility is being provided to allow for employee representatives that are not part of the Work-Sharing unit. Payroll Officers and/or Human Resources Advisors/Administrators are examples of individuals who can represent employees and validate the accuracy of the Work-Sharing unit. In a unionized workplace, the authorized employee representative may be a may be a member of/and designated by the union. This individual will be referred to as the union representative.

The employee and/or union representative act(s) as the delegate and voice for all employees in a Work-Sharing unit. The employee representative works with the employer during the Work-Sharing application process and is responsible for communicating the needs and relaying any issues or concerns of the Work-Sharing participants to the employer. The employee representative will also ensure that the employees know what to expect when participating in a Work-Sharing agreement and provide them with a copy of the signed (typed name in the form) agreement and the Employee Annex. Under COVID-19, wet signatures are no longer required, and typed names in the Work-Sharing application form (EMP5100) and agreement are now accepted as signatures. The employee representative must agree to what is stipulated in the Work-Sharing application and agreement by signing both documents. By signing the application form (EMP5100) and the WS Agreement, the employee representative agrees, on behalf of the employees they represent, to comply with what is stipulated in these 2 documents.

Expected work reduction

Work-Sharing agreements must include a reduction in work activity of the employees' regular work schedule between a minimum of 10% (which is 4 hours out of a 40 hours work-week) and a maximum of 60% (which is 24 hours out of a 40 hour work-week). In any given week, the work reduction can vary depending on available work, as long as the work reduction is between 10% and 60% of the employees normal work hours, on average, over the life of the agreement.

The proposed percentage of reduction in work hours, indicated in box 35 of the Work-Sharing application form (EMP5100), can be calculated based on the percentage of anticipated layoffs within the Work-Sharing unit(s). This percentage is determined by dividing the number of employees to be laid off if the Work-Sharing agreement is not approved (indicated in box 29 of the application), and the number of employees to participate in Work-Sharing (indicated in box 31 of the application), multiplied by 100. The formula is as follow: Work-Sharing box 29 / box 31 x 100.

For example, if the employer indicates that 5 layoffs will take place if Work-Sharing is not approved (box 29) out of 10 employees to participate in Work-Sharing (box 31), the percentage reduction in work hours would be 50% (5/10 X 100). If employees used to work 5 days a week and a 40 hour work-week, the employer would indicate that employees would now be working 20 hours or 2.5 days per week while participating in Work-Sharing, in box 35 of the application.

Agreement duration, extension and start/end dates

Duration: The duration of an agreement should be based on the expected duration of the work shortage (number of weeks of anticipated layoffs) and the time required to return to normal working hours. However, due to COVID-19, employers who request an initial Work-Sharing agreement, which used to be for a duration of 26 weeks, automatically receive up to 76 weeks, even if they expect that their employees will return to normal work hours sooner. Employers can end their Work-Sharing agreement at any time without penalty.

Extensions: If you were already participating in a Work-Sharing agreement and would like to benefit from the full 76 weeks, you may be eligible for a 38 or 50-week extension for a total of 76 weeks, regardless of the sector you operate in. To apply for an extension, you need to complete the mandatory sections in the Work-Sharing application form (EMP5100), and submit electronically to the appropriate regional email address indicated below, based on where your business is located:

Atlantic Provinces: esdc.tp-atl-ws-tp.edsc@servicecanada.gc.ca

Quebec: qc-dpmtds-lmsdpb-tp-ws-gd@servicecanada.gc.ca

Ontario: esdc.on.ws-tp.on.edsc@servicecanada.gc.ca

Western Canada and Territories: edsc.wt.ws-tp.esdc@servicecanada.gc.ca

Employers who have already received an extension (to up to 76 weeks) under any of the other temporary special measures (forestry or steel and aluminum), and are now experiencing further reductions in business activity due to COVID-19, are eligible to access another 76 weeks under COVID-19. For example, an employer currently accessing steel and aluminum or forestry special measures could serve the 76-week maximum agreement period that was already approved, and then apply for a new agreement under COVID-19 for a maximum of 76 weeks.

Please see Annex A for a complete list of industries associated with the steel and aluminum sector.

Note that backdating applications (retroactivity) is not possible under the Work-Sharing program.

Recovery plan and Attachment A

A recovery plan is no longer required as per COVID-19 special measures. Employers can now simply answer the following question found in box 26 of the Work-Sharing application: What measures will your business be undertaking during the period of the agreement? For example:

  • marketing
  • advertisement
  • cost-cutting measures
  • products development
  • incentives to clients
  • others

However, the completion of the Attachment A form (EMP5101), which includes a list of Work-Sharing participants and unit breakdown, remains mandatory for all Work-Sharing applications.

The Attachment A form (EMP5101) lists all employees who are participating in a Work-Sharing agreement, for example, the members of the Work-Sharing unit. The Attachment A form (EMP5101) must also be signed by the employee representative (in a non-unionized workplace) or union representative (in the case of a unionized workplace). The employee/union representative’s signature indicates that all employees in the Work-Sharing unit agree to participate in Work-Sharing and to reduce their hours of work. Under COVID-19, wet signatures are no longer required, and typed names in the Work-Sharing application form (EMP5100) and Attachment A (EMP5101) can be considered and accepted as electronic signatures.

Other considerations

Work-Sharing benefits

Participants do not have to serve a waiting period for Work-Sharing benefits. However, as these benefits are processed through the Employment Insurance payment system, it may take a few weeks after the employer has submitted the first 2 Utilization Reports (since EI pays employees on a bi-weekly basis (see section F, subsection iii for further information) for the first cheque to arrive. It is important that the employer advise their employees of this delay in the initial receipt of Work-Sharing benefits.

The benefits payable are based on the employee’s normal average weekly earnings, as calculated at the start of the agreement. If the employees work irregular hours, the average weekly wage is calculated by averaging the hours worked per week over the last year preceding the application.

During the Work-Sharing agreement, the employer may request an employee to work on a Work-Sharing day. The employee is required to report to work as it becomes available.

Earnings received in any week by an employee shall not be deducted from the Work-Sharing benefits. If a Work-Sharing participant has earnings from sources other than the Work-Sharing employment, a percentage of these earnings will be deducted from any Work-Sharing benefits payable the week in which the earnings occurred. Earnings are deducted in the following way:

  • if the earnings received are less than the Earning Threshold
    • (for example, 90% of the Weekly Insurable Earnings (WIE) used to calculate the Employment Insurance claim), 50% of the earnings will be deducted from any Work-Sharing benefits payable
  • if the earnings received are more than the Earning Threshold but less than the WIE
    • 50% of the earnings up to the Earning Threshold will be deducted as well as 100% of the earnings over the Earning Threshold
  • if the earnings received are equal to or greater than the WIE, no benefits will be payable

The employer pays 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 work hours they missed. For example, if the employee missed 50% of their normal weekly hours due to Work-Sharing, they would receive 50% of their benefit rate from EI. Their benefit rate would 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).

Reference code

After you have signed the Work-Sharing agreement, the Program Officer in charge of your file will send you a Work-Sharing Employees notice that will include a reference code to be used by employees participating in the WS unit(s) in order to apply online for benefits. This code will only be valid for the time period indicated on the notice.

You are required to share this reference code with employees participating in work sharing in order for them to receive their benefits on time without any delays.

When employees begin their online application process, they will be asked to enter the reference code exactly as it appears on the notice you received, with no spaces and no dashes between the characters.

Employers who have employees in multiple work locations across Canada can submit 1 bundle application. However, if they have multiple employer/employee representatives in different regions, applications should be submitted separately (based on each region) since reference code are region-specific. For example, an employer with work locations in the Atlantic and Quebec regions would submit 2 applications, and be given 2 reference codes.

If an employer sends multiple applications to different Processing Centers, these applications will be treated separately.

Range in average weekly earnings per Work-Sharing unit on application form

If you indicated a range of earnings in box 26 of your Work-Sharing application (average weekly earnings per Work-Sharing unit of $900 to $1,500), a Service Canada Project Officer will clarify with you whether there is only 1 unit with different average weekly earnings, or if there are multiples Work-Sharing units.

In the case where there are multiple Work-Sharing units, the Project Officer you are assigned to will request that you submit a different Attachment A form (EMP5101) for each Work-Sharing unit. Also, you will be requested to send them an email listing all Work-Sharing units that will participate in the agreement, and the average weekly earnings per unit.

For example,

  • Unit 1: average weekly earnings of $900
  • Unit 2: average weekly earnings of $1,200
  • Unit 3: average weekly earnings of $1,500

Taxation

Please ensure that all employees are made aware of the following tax implications for receiving Employment Insurance benefits:

Tax deductions for Employment Insurance Work-Sharing benefits are determined from the information the claimant provides in the Income Tax section of the Employment Insurance application; the amount of tax deducted is specific to the claimant's province, personal tax situation and benefit rate.

The Employment Insurance benefits received by Work-Sharing participants are taxable; however because of the weekly amount of benefits paid, taxes are not always withheld at source. Participants may wish to have their income tax deductions increased in order to avoid having to pay a large amount of income tax at year-end. This request can be made by phone at the toll-free number: 1-800-206-7218, TTY: 1-800-529-3742. For faster service, please provide us with your Social Insurance Number (SIN).

At the time the participant files their income tax return, depending on their net income, they may be required to repay some of the Employment Insurance benefits received. Benefit repayment requires claimants with a net yearly income exceeding a specified threshold to repay a percentage of the Employment Insurance regular benefits received during the tax year.

For example, if your 2019 net income from all sources exceeds $66,375, you will be required to repay 30% of the lesser of:

  • your net income in excess of $66,375, or
  • the total regular benefits, including regular fishing benefits, paid in the taxation year

Exemptions apply in certain circumstances. For more information on repayment of benefits at income tax time please visit: Employment Insurance and Repayment of Benefits at Income Tax Time - Year 2019.

Employee benefits

The employer must maintain all existing employee benefits for the duration of the Work-Sharing agreement. For example:

  • health/dental insurance
  • pension benefits
  • vacation
  • group disability

However, employees should be made aware that benefits (including any subsequent payout of benefits) may be reduced if calculated based on earnings or hours of work. Also, statutory holidays occurring within a Work-Sharing period are not compensated by Employment Insurance benefits and are the responsibility of the employer.

Workforce

Businesses are not allowed to increase their workforce during a Work-Sharing agreement, but may replace core employees who choose to leave. Large businesses that have multiple departments in operation may increase staff, as required, for departments that are not participating in Work-Sharing.

Note: An employer can hire co-op students while participating in a Work-Sharing agreement. However, students hired for the summer or for a co-op term are not eligible to participate in a Work-Sharing agreement. The work hours of these co-op students would be expected to be the same as those of employees who are participating in the Work-Sharing unit, to ensure equitable sharing of the available work.

Given that reduced business activity serves as the context for being eligible to participate in Work Sharing and that the objective is to avert layoffs, there is also an expectation that any additional work would first be offered to the existing members of the Work-Sharing unit, not to co-op students.

Subsequent application for a Work-Sharing agreement

Under normal circumstances, employers must serve a mandatory waiting period before they are eligible to begin a new Work-Sharing agreement involving the same employees who participated in a previous Work-Sharing agreement. The mandatory waiting period is equal to the number of weeks of the previous agreement, up to a maximum of 38 weeks. Note: If the previous agreement was signed for 26 weeks but terminated early at week 20, the mandatory waiting period would equal 20 weeks.

However, under COVID-19 circumstances, the mandatory waiting period between Work-Sharing agreements is waived. Eligible employers can apply immediately for the remaining time up to the maximum established duration of 76 weeks. Employers who already received an extension (to up to 76 weeks) under any other temporary special measures, and are now experiencing further reductions in business activity due to COVID-19, are eligible to access 76 weeks without serving a mandatory cooling-off period. For example, an employer currently accessing special measures under steel and aluminum or forestry could serve the 76-week maximum agreement period that was already approved, and then participate in another 76 weeks under COVID-19 without having to wait in between agreements.

Employers may submit an application for a new Work-Sharing agreement involving a different group of core employees at any time (for example, no mandatory cooling-off period). Employers must demonstrate that the work shortage is caused by new unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances.

Training activities

Skills enhancement, whether on-the-job training or off-site courses, may take place during the period of a Work-Sharing agreement. Upon initiating training activities, arrangements between the employer and employees should be made to ensure that training activities will be carried to term in the event of an unanticipated recovery in the business activities. In the event of partial or full return to normal business levels, and if recovery could be delayed due to the employees' continued participation in training activities, employees may be requested by the employer to return to work.

The salary costs of employees taking part in training during normal scheduled working days/hours are not compensated through the Work-Sharing agreement. Employees may take part in training during the non-working days/hours of the Work-Sharing agreement (for example, during days/hours missed due to participation in Work-Sharing) and are compensated through the Work-Sharing agreement.

The employer may not specifically or intentionally reduce the scheduled working hours of employees in a Work-Sharing unit in order to allow employees to take part in training. The working days/hours of employees in a Work-Sharing unit must only be reduced based on the demonstrated reduction in business activity and projected reduction in work activity.

During Work-Sharing, employees may still be eligible to receive additional support for skills training on the days when they are not working through other federal, provincial or territorial funding sources (for example, Labour Force Development Agreements).

Agreement monitoring

All Work-Sharing agreements are monitored at least once by Service Canada.

The purpose of monitoring is to determine the extent to which the objectives of the Work-Sharing program are being achieved and to ensure the agreement is implemented as agreed to by all parties. Monitoring increases the likelihood that the agreement will succeed by providing on-going opportunities to support the employer and plan for any needed adjustments.

The Service Canada Program Officer will contact the employer and employee representatives directly. It is important that the employer and employee representatives be informed that the following will be required for the monitoring:

  • payroll records
  • time sheets, and
  • Utilization Reports

During the Work-Sharing agreement, the employer must regularly report the total hours worked and the hours missed due to participation in Work-Sharing via a weekly Utilization Report. If hours worked are 0, the employer is required to provide days not available and missed due to sick (illness) or any other reason. The Utilization Report submitted by the employer is necessary for the payment of Work-Sharing benefits and is the primary method for monitoring Work-Sharing agreements. Please refer to section F, subsection iii of this guide for further information on the weekly Utilization Report.

There will be a review of the Utilization Reports (at least the last 4 weeks preceding the date of monitor) to ensure the utilization rate is within the requirements of the program (for example, between 10% and 60%). A sample of at least 4 weeks of the payroll records (same timeframe used in the review of the URs) will also be required to ensure that an accurate record of the WS unit's ongoing work activity is maintained. Service Canada will also ensure that there is equal sharing of work that all the employee benefits are maintained, and verify if there are any layoffs and/or other potential concerns.

Applying for a Work-Sharing agreement

It is essential that the Work-Sharing application form (EMP5100) be fully and accurately completed, and electronically signed by an employer representative (with the authority to enter into a legal agreement) and an employee and/or union representative. Under COVID-19, Service Canada officials will accept that the names be typed in the Work-Sharing application form (EMP5100) to replace the wet signatures.

A Service Canada Project Officer will contact employers who submit incomplete Work-Sharing applications to request missing information for further processing. Project officers will provide employers with email and phone notices and ask that they contact the Program Officer mentioned in the email and voicemail to complete the assessment of their application. The employer will be given up to 5 business days to provide missing information, otherwise, their file will be closed and they will be asked to submit a new application, should they still be interested.

Please provide your employees with a copy of the Employee Annex before submitting an application.

Employers applying for the Work-Sharing program must complete the following documents:

Completed applications and Attachment A form (EMP5101) must be submitted a minimum of 10 days prior to the requested start date. In order to address the increased volume of applications and to better support all employers and employees, applications will be processed based on start date. Applications that are submitted over 10 business days prior to the requested start date of the agreement will be processed as efficiently as possible to meet the requested start date, but processing may exceed 10 business days.

Please note that Work-Sharing agreements can only start on a Sunday to align with the Employment Insurance payment cycle, which should be considered in the planning of their Work-Sharing application.

Note: If the employer does not have enough room on one Attachment A form (EMP5101), they can use as many forms as required. If possible, employers must submit separate Attachment A form (EMP5101) per Work-Sharing unit.

Employers are instructed to submit their completed applications to 1 of the following email addresses, based on the region in which their business is located:

Atlantic Provinces : esdc.tp-atl-ws-tp.esdc@servicecanada.gc.ca

Quebec : qc-dpmtds-lmsdpb-tp-ws-gd@servicecanada.gc.ca

Ontario : esdc.on.ws-tp.on.edsc@servicecanada.gc.ca

Western Canada and Territories : edsc.wt.ws-tp.esdc@servicecanada.gc.ca

Service Canada will electronically acknowledge the receipt of the application.

Incomplete work-sharing applications may delay service Canada’s assessment of your application.

The following provides instructions for completing the Work-Sharing application form (EMP5100); the box numbers listed correspond to the application form.

Assessment for approval process

All applications are subject to an assessment and approval process by Service Canada.

Assessment of the application

Applications will be assessed in terms of both eligibility and assessment criteria.

The Service Canada Program Officer will review the application to ensure that it meets program criteria and that all the necessary information has been provided. The Service Canada Program Officer will also review and validate the statements made by the employer. The Program Officer will conduct a cost analysis (comparing the cost related to the temporary layoffs and the cost of the proposed Work-Sharing agreement) to establish the cost benefit of recommending or not recommending a Work-Sharing application.

For information, the cost analysis is determined by dividing the number of employees to be laid off if the Work-Sharing agreement is not approved (indicated in box 29 of the application), and the number of employees to participate in Work-Sharing (box 31 of the application) multiplied by 100. The formula is as follows: box 29 / box 31 x 100.

In order to recommend the application for approval, the Program Officer must conclude that Work-Sharing is the appropriate program to address the work reduction and that there is a reasonable expectation (based on a realistic measures taken by the employer (box 25 of the application)) that all members of the Work-Sharing unit(s) will return to normal working hours by the end of the agreement.

Approval

Service Canada officials will inform you of the status of your application. All decisions on applications, whether rejected or approved, will be confirmed in writing electronically.

Decisions regarding the assessment of applications are final. There is no appeal process for the rejection of a Work-Sharing application.

Once a Work-Sharing application is approved, the agreement must be signed within 60 calendar days following the approval date. If the agreement is not signed by all parties within 60 calendar days, the agreement will be cancelled. Also, a signed agreement that is not implemented within 60 calendar days of the start date (indicated in section 5b of the articles of agreement) will be terminated. In both cases, if the employer still wishes to participate in the Work-Sharing program, a new application will need to be submitted.

Note: Under COVID-19 circumstances, business can temporarily shut down over the course of the agreement and do not require Service Canada approval. However, shut down periods will not result in an extension to the duration of the Work-Sharing agreement.

To apply for a Work-Sharing Agreement, the company must be in operation. If an employer plans a long-term shut down (exceeding 4 weeks), the application will not be approved.

In order to better support employees during provincially mandated shutdown periods, the following will no longer be allowed for employers participating in Work-Sharing agreements during temporary special measures for COVID-19:

  • shutdown periods exceeding a duration of 4 consecutive weeks, and
  • starting an agreement when no work is available while in shut down

For extended shutdown periods in which no work is available to employees, employers should consider laying-off employees. These employees would also be encouraged to pursue other benefits, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits.

When work becomes available and when the shut down period has ended, businesses can re-apply for Work-Sharing. Please note that employers must submit their application 10 days prior to the requested start date.

Additional instructions and information for employers

This section contains helpful information employers need in order to maintain the Work-Sharing agreement including:

  • instructions on completing the records of employment
  • instructions on completing the Utilization Report, and
  • other important information regarding changes to a Work-Sharing agreement and employer obligations

Records of employment

A record of employment must be provided to each employee who will be participating in the Work-Sharing program. A record of employment cannot be issued until the employees have completed their work shifts up to the start date of the agreement. Records of employment can be submitted electronically via the Record of employment on the Web (ROE Web). Employers who have not done so already, will need to register for ROE Web.

To simplify the issuance of records of employment, you may wish to consider starting your Work-Sharing agreement at the end of a pay period. All Work-Sharing agreements start on Sundays.

If you have any questions regarding the completion of the records of employment, please contact a ROE advisor 1-800-367-5693 (TTY: 1-855-881-9874).

Enrolment sheet

To process Work-Sharing benefits for each employee, employers must complete and submit to Service Canada an enrolment sheet that lists all participating employees and their Social Insurance Numbers.

Employers are encouraged to submit the enrolment sheet through the Data Gateway.

The Data Gateway is a Web-based file transfer tool that was designed to give employers the capacity to send information about their employees electronically to Service Canada through a secure and reliable channel. The Data Gateway User Guide contains important information to assist you in submitting your weekly Utilization Reports.

Benefits of using the Data Gateway:

  • you will be able to submit your Utilization Reports electronically through the Data Gateway web site
  • it is fast, convenient and user-friendly, and
  • encryption technology ensures that the information you send is kept safe and secure

Your organization will be assigned a user ID and password that will be required to login to the Data Gateway web site. This user ID and password will be provided to you, by letter, at the beginning of your agreement.

For assistance with questions or issues about how to obtain a user ID and password, employers can contact the Employment Contact Centre (ECC) at 1-800-367-5693.

Additionally, the letter will provide you with a toll free number for support and will provide direction on how to get an instruction manual and all of the necessary web links. The Data Gateway is only to be used to submit the Enrolment sheet and Utilization Reports. Documents required by your Program Officer must be sent directly to your Program Officer.

To protect your employees' personal information, avoid sending combined sensitive information. For example, sending a list of Social Insurance Numbers (SINs) without any other sensitive information is acceptable if the Utilization Report is sent in a separate email to avoid combining sensitive information. Do not send documents that contain a SIN by e-mail or fax.

Note: Completed Attachment A form (EMP5101) should not be sent via Data Gateway.

If technical difficulties arise while using the Data Gateway, employers can mail a paper copy of the Utilization Report or the Enrolment Sheet to the Insurance Payment Operational Centre (IPOC) in their region to 1 of the following addresses:

Atlantic Canada (courier)
IPOC /Government of Canada Building
1081 Main ST
Moncton NB  E1C 9G8

Atlantic Canada (mail)
IPOC / Government of Canada Building
PO Box 6044
Moncton NB  E1C 9G8

Quebec (courier)
IPOC
540 rue d’Avaugour
Boucherville QC  J4B 0G6

Quebec (mail)
IPOC
PO Box 60
Boucherville QC  J4B 5E6

Ontario (courier)
Service Canada
430 Courtneypark Drive East
Mississauga ON  L5T 2S5

Ontario (mail)
Service Canada
3515
PO Box 2602
Mississauga ON  L4T 0B1

Western Canada (mail or courier)
Service Canada - Work-Sharing Suite 400
555 Hastings St W
Vancouver BC  V6B 1M1

For assistance with questions or issues related to the Data Gateway, employers can contact the Employment Contact Centre (ECC):

Canada and the United States:
Toll-free: 1-800-367-5693
TTY: 1-855-881-9874
Outside Canada and the United States: 506-546-7569 (collect calls accepted).
Hours of operation: 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, Eastern Time, Monday to Friday.

Utilization Reports

To track the percentage of time that Work-Sharing is utilized and to enable Service Canada to determine the benefits payable to your employees, employers who enter into a Work-Sharing agreement are expected to complete a Utilization Report every week. A Utilization Report must be submitted in an Excel format each week during the period of the agreement including any weeks of no utilization (for example, hours missed equal 0). For instructions on how to complete your utilization report, please visit the UR webpage.

The Employer Contact Centre (ECC) will send to the project officer in charge of the file the appropriate Utilization reports (URs) templates when they register them to the Data Gateway. The project officer will then transfer the appropriate template to the employer. If they are already registered to the Data Gateway and do not have the URs templates, employers should contact the ECC.

The Utilization Report must be completed weekly beginning the first week of your Work-Sharing agreement as it is required by Service Canada in order to pay your employees.

Determining normal weekly hours and on-call average weekly earnings

During a Work-Sharing agreement, and for each week, the employer is required (for Employment Insurance purposes) to provide the hours worked and hours missed. Should the employees not work at all (0 hours), the employer is required to report the amount of any money that may have been paid to the employees.

If an employee is ‘on call’, the employer only has to report the hours worked if the employee is called in. If the employee is called in, the hours worked for the call are added to the Hours worked column of the Utilization Report (UR). The hours worked reduce the amount in the Hours missed column.

For example, assuming the employee works 40 normal weekly hours:

Day Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Hours worked 8 8 n/a n/a 8 n/a n/a
Hours missed due to Work-Sharing n/a n/a 8 8 n/a n/a n/a
On call No No Yes No No Yes No

If the employee was not called in to work on any of their on call periods, the declaration on the Utilization Report would be:

  • normal weekly hours: 40
  • hours worked: 24
  • hours missed: 16 (including 8 hours missed as part of the Work-Sharing agreement and 8 hours missed considering that the employee was not called in too work)

If the employee was called in during an ‘on call’ period, the hours need to be added to the hours worked and reduced from the hours missed. If, in this example, the employee came in for 4 hours, the declaration on the UR would be:

  • normal weekly hours: 40
  • hours worked: 28
  • hours missed: 12

Irregular work schedules

Employees on an irregular work schedule may cycle through a period of rotating shifts comprising longer days or hours of work followed by more hours or days off work, rather than working a conventional work week comprised of 5 working days with 2 days off within a business week. For example, the normal work period may cover a total 21 business days, with employees working 15 days followed by 6 days off.

If it is determined that the employees at a company have had irregular work hours over the last year, the employer may not be required to adapt their work schedule to ensure employees work at least a half hour of work in each week.

All employees are required to work at least 30 minutes per week to remain eligible for benefits under the program. Normally, a week is counted as a week of unemployment for the purposes of paying Work-Sharing benefits when an employee has worked at least 30 minutes in a business week (Sunday to Saturday). In the case of an irregular work schedule, due to the combination of hours/shifts/days not worked due to an employee’s participation in Work-Sharing and those dates not worked due to the irregular work schedule, the likelihood exists that there will be business weeks in which an employee does not work a minimum of 30 minutes. However, employers need to make sure that throughout the life of the agreement, employees who have irregular work schedules have a reduction in working hours between 10%-60% (on average).

It is important for the employers to inform Service Canada when requesting an irregular work schedule. The PO in charge of your file will help developing an averaging or pro-rating formula for reporting hours worked and hours missed on the Utilization Report to avoid errors.

If you have made a mistake or error on a Utilization Report already submitted to Service Canada, please complete and submit the Amended Utilization Report, updating only the changes required.

Please refer to the table below for instructions on how to complete the Utilization Report.

For assistance with questions or issues related to the Utilization Report, employers can contact the Employment Contact Centre (ECC):

Canada and the United States:

Toll-free: 1-800-367-5693
TTY: 1-855-881-9874
Outside Canada and the United States: 506-546-7569 (collect calls accepted)
Hours of operation: 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, Eastern Time, Monday to Friday

The Utilization Report can be submitted electronically via a Data Gateway.

Sending your Utilization Reports via the Data Gateway is strongly encouraged as it allow us to receive your Utilization Report within an hour of submission thereby ensuring quicker processing of your employees’ benefits.

An employer not using the Data Gateway can mail a paper copy of the Utilization Report or the Enrolment Sheet to the Insurance Payment Operational Centre (IPOC) in their region to 1 of the following addresses:

Atlantic Canada (courier)
IPOC /Government of Canada Building
1081 Main ST
Moncton NB  E1C 9G8

Atlantic Canada (mail)
IPOC / Government of Canada Building
PO Box 6044
Moncton NB  E1C 9G8

Quebec (courier)
IPOC
540 rue d’Avaugour
Boucherville QC  J4B 0G6

Quebec (mail)
IPOC
PO Box 60
Boucherville QC  J4B 5E6

Ontario (courier)
Service Canada
430 Courtneypark Drive East
Mississauga ON  L5T 2S5

Ontario (mail)
Service Canada
3515
PO Box 2602
Mississauga ON  L4T 0B1

Western Canada (mail or courier)
Service Canada - Work-Sharing Suite 400
555 Hastings St W
Vancouver BC  V6B 1M1

Amendments/changes to a Work-Sharing agreement

The following changes require prior approval from Service Canada:

  • agreement extensions
  • layoffs
  • additions, deletions and substitutions to the Work-Sharing unit(s)

Employers wishing to make changes to their Work-Sharing agreement must do so by completing the required sections of the Work-Sharing application form (EMP5100) as well as the Attachment A form (EMP5101), if applicable, if a change is required to a Work-Sharing Unit. Please allow at least 10 days for processing. It is essential that both the employer and employee representative electronically sign (type their names) all such requests for amendments. These changes cannot be implemented until you receive approval by Service Canada. The PO will inform the employer once the amendment request is approved. Please ensure the change is reflected on your weekly Utilization Report under the “Comments” section.

Service Canada must be notified in writing within 3 days if any Work-Sharing unit members leave the company for 1 of the following reasons:

  • quit
  • dismissed
  • leave of absence
  • illness
  • maternity

The name and SIN of the employee(s) involved must be sent by email to the Work-Sharing Program Officer indicating the last day the employee(s) worked and the reason for departure. To protect your employees' personal information, avoid sending sensitive information in combination. Sending a SIN without any other sensitive information is acceptable if the employee's name is sent in a separate email to avoid combining sensitive information. An email should be sent to the Work-Sharing Program Officer indicating the name and Social Insurance Number of the affected employee(s), the employee(s)’ last day of work and the reason for departure. The email must include the electronic approvals of the employer representative as well as the employee representative. Please ensure this information is reflected in your weekly Utilization Report under the “Comments” section.

Please see Annex A for complete list of industries associated with the affected sector.

Employer obligations

During the life of the agreement, employers must:

  • make information about the Work-Sharing agreement available to all employees and ensure that the Employee Representative distributes a copy of the Employee Annex to all members of the Work- Sharing unit
  • report the total hours worked, the hours of work missed due to participation in Work-Sharing and the hours of work missed due to any other reasons for each employee via a weekly Utilization Report and by submitting it to Service Canada
  • maintain all existing benefits. However, benefits (including any subsequent payout of benefits, for example, disability benefits) may be reduced due to participation in a Work-Sharing agreement if calculated based on earnings or hours of work
  • advise employees that benefits such as pensions, vacation pay and, in some circumstances, subsequent claims for Employment Insurance benefits, may be affected by participation in Work- Sharing, usually due to employees having lower gross (insurable) earnings and/or fewer hours of work
  • maintain proper records of each employee on Work-Sharing during the agreement including wages and any other remuneration paid to those employees each week
  • make such records available, upon request, to Service Canada for inspection and audit
  • notify Service Canada prior to any requested changes to the agreement
  • maintain a schedule of work and track any hours of overtime worked by Work-Sharing employees
  • advise Service Canada of changes to work schedules on a continuing basis. Specific dates and number of employees involved must be included and should be given prior to the change, and
  • schedule at least one half hour of work per week for employees with regular work schedules, in order for them to qualify for Work- Sharing Employment Insurance benefits

Annex A: List of industries impacted in the steel and aluminum sector

Note: Lists are non-exhaustive.

Steel and aluminum sector

Directly impacted industries primarily fall under Primary Metal Manufacturing, and include the following sub-industries:

  • iron and steel mills and ferro-alloy manufacturing
  • steel product manufacturing from purchased steel
  • alumina and aluminum production and processing

The most prevalent occupations in the Primary Metal Manufacturing industry are:

  • welders and related machine operators
  • construction millwrights and industrial mechanics
  • supervisors, mineral and metal processing
  • machine operators, mineral and metal processing
  • labourers in mineral and metal processing
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