This FAQ is intended to provide further guidance on the COVID-19 guidance for Work-Share Programs. We caution readers that due to the fluidity of the situation that the information may change on a daily basis. We will continue to update as new information is provided.

Please see our other articles on COVID-19 here.

COVID-19 Work-Share Programs

The maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program has been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.

Work-Sharing (WS) is a program that helps employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary decrease in business activity beyond the control of the employer. The program provides EI benefits to eligible employees who agree to reduce their normal working hours and share the available work while their employer recovers. Work-Sharing is an agreement between employers, employees and the Government of Canada.

Allows Employers to:

  • retain qualified and experienced workers, and
  • avoid recruiting and training new employees

Allows employees to:

  • keep their jobs, and
  • maintain their work skills

Key program features

  • WS unit: A WS unit is a group of employees with similar job duties who agree to reduce their hours of work over a specific period of time
  • Equal sharing of work: All members of a WS unit agree to reduce their hours of work by the same percentage and to share the available work
  • Assume all employees eligible for EI through WS until unless notified otherwise
  • Expected work reduction: A WS unit must reduce its hours of work by at least 10% to 60%. The reduction of hours can vary from week to week, as long as the average reduction over the course of the agreement is from 10% to 60%
  • Agreement length and extension: A WS agreement has to be at least 6 consecutive weeks long and can last up to 26 consecutive weeks. Employers may be able to extend their agreements up to a total of 76 weeks

Work-Sharing temporary special measures to support employers and workers affected by COVID-19

  • Effective March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021, and not limited to one specific sector or industry, the Government of Canada is introducing temporary special measures.
  • Extension of the maximum possible duration of an agreement from 38 weeks to 76 weeks
  • Mandatory cooling off period has been waived for employers who have already used the Work-Sharing program so that eligible employers may immediately enter into a new agreement
  • Reduce the requirement and expand eligibility to employers affected by accepting business who have been in business for only 1 year rather than 2, and eliminate the burden of having to provide sales/production figures at the same time

Modified application processing time

The streamlined measures undertaken by the department will aim to reduce the average 30-day processing time of files to approximately 10 calendar days. The Department will prioritize every incoming work-sharing file and do their best to process these applications quickly to support Canadian employers and employees. This timeline may vary based on the amount of applications received.

The department will attempt to render a decision on the application collected within 10 days of receipt of the documents. On the application, the employer can estimate the start date by calculating 10 days (day 1 being the date the application was sent to the regional office) if the application is approved earlier the start date will be adjusted and the same if the application is approved a few days later. The start date will be adjusted accordingly and the ’76 week’ will start the date the project has been approved. Please note that all WS agreements start on a Sunday. No retroactivity is possible.

Please contact any Millards location if you have questions regarding Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. Like so many of the client businesses we serve, Millards Chartered Professional Accountants has adopted COVID-19 procedures and protocols to guide safe interaction with others. In an effort to maintain social distancing, please contact us via phone or email only. Please continue to visit this website for further details on our current policies.