Work Sharing Program – FAQ

March 26, 2020 | Articles

Federal Work-Sharing Program – Fact Sheet and FAQ

Work-sharing is a supplemental program designed to help eligible 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 measure provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers.

Work-Sharing (WS) is a three-party agreement involving employers, employees and Service Canada. Employees on 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 Government of Canada introduced temporary special measures that extend the maximum duration of Work-Sharing agreements from 38 weeks to 76 weeks across Canada for those businesses affected by the downturn in business due to COVID-19.

Note: The employer, the affected employees (and the union, if applicable) must agree to participate in a Work-Sharing agreement and must apply together. An application for a Work-Sharing agreement must be submitted a minimum of 30 days prior to the requested start date.

The mandatory waiting period has also been waived so that employers with a recently expired agreement may immediately apply for a new agreement, without waiting between applications.

How do I know if I am an eligible employer?
To be eligible for a Work-Sharing program, employers must:

  • be experiencing a recent decline in business activity of at least 10%
  • be experiencing a recent decline in business activity directly or indirectly related to the impact of COVID-19, the downturn in the forestry and steel and aluminum sectors demonstrate that the shortage of work is temporary, beyond your control and not a cyclical/recurring slowdown
  • demonstrate that the shortage of work is temporary, beyond your control and not a cyclical/recurring slowdown
  • be a year-round business in Canada for at least two years
  • be a private business, a publicly held company or a not-for-profit organization
  • have at least two employees in the WS unit
  • be willing to implement a recovery plan to support the on-going operations and viability of the business

To be eligible for WS, your employees must:

  • be year-round, permanent, full-time or part-time employees needed to carry out the day-to-day functions of the business (your “core staff”)
  • be eligible to receive EI benefits
  • agree to reduce their normal working hours by the same percentage and to share the available work

How many hours of an employee’s work schedule can be reduced and how long can it last?

  • A reduction between a minimum of 10% (one half-day) and a maximum of 50% (three days).
  • In any given week, the work reduction can vary depending on available work, as long as the work reduction on average is between 10%-60% for the duration of the program.
  • The program must have a minimum duration of six (6) weeks and as a result of COVID-19, may last up to 76 weeks (normally maximum 38 weeks).

Applicant Guide
Employee Guide

How to apply (new agreements):
You must submit the following documents (with guidance provided online):

In Ontario, applications are to be submitted to the following address:

For more information on the Work-Sharing Program, employers, employees, and union representatives can contact the federal government:  1-800-367-5693 (TTY: 1-855-881-9874).

If you would like assistance in contacting the government with your questions or in completing your documentation, please contact us for support at 416-694-6101 x 111.

Let’s start a conversation