Government Work-Sharing Program | Explained

Blog April 7, 2020

Posted by Alex Goodhew

Government Work-Sharing Program | Explained Featured Image

The Government Work-Sharing Program isn’t new, but it’s been adapted and expanded to support a range of sectors and companies across the country who may be facing challenges due to COVID-19. This is a partnership program between the employer, the group of employees and the government of Canada.

Intention of the Program

  • Help employers avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer
  • Allow employers to retain qualified talent and avoid recruiting and training new employees
  • Help employees to retain their jobs
  • Provide EI benefits to eligible employees who agree to reduce their normal working hours and share the available work with their colleagues

Parameters of the Program

  • A work-share group of employees all need to agree to the parameters (normally they have similarities in their skills/roles)
  • Each employee in the work-share unit needs to be reduced to the same number of hours per week (i.e. be working an equal amount)
  • There must be a reduction in the employee’s hours by 10%-60%
  • The length of the work-share program can be anywhere from 6-76 weeks (you can apply for 76 weeks right off the bat if you’d like)
  • A company can have multiple work-share groups

    Example: If a company had 10 people working 40 hours per week, but the employer has had a decrease in business and now they are reducing their hours to 20 per week in a work-share program. The employer would pay the employees for those 20 hours of work per week and the Government would apply EI calculations to those remaining 20 hours. In most cases that is 55%, up to a max of $54,200. So the government won’t top up the full salary, but will potentially do up to 55%.

Eligible Employers

  • You are a year-round business in Canada for at least one year
  • You are a private business, a publicly held company or a not-for-profit
  • You have at least a 10% decrease in recent business
  • You have at least 2 employees in the Work Unit

Ineligible Employers

  • If you are involved in a labour dispute
  • If it is a seasonal shortage
  • If you have a pre-existing or reoccurring slowdown
  • If you have a decrease in business activities due to a recent increase in the size of the workforce

Eligible Employees

  • You are a year-round, permanent, full time or part-time (core or essential staff)
  • You are eligible to receive EI benefits
  • You agree to the reduced hours by the same percentage as other in the work-sharing unit

Ineligible Employees

  • If you are a seasonal employee student, summer intern or co-op term
  • If you are hired on a casual or on-call basis
  • If you hold more than 40% of the voting shares

How to Apply in Western Canada and Territories

Learn more through the Applicant Guide and on their website.

Learn more about other COVID-19 government incentives.

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