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Work-Sharing Program

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What is the Work-sharing Program?

Work-Sharing helps prevent layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer. The program requires a three-way agreement to be negotiated between the employer, employees, and Service Canada, and provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while the business recovers.

Most recent update: Effective March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021 the work-sharing program has introduced temporary special measures to:

  • Lengthen the maximum agreements from 38 to 76 weeks
  • Waive the 30 day wait period for those who have used the work-sharing program in the past
  • Process applications within 10 days instead of 30
  • Reduce the Recovery Plan to a single line in the application form
  • Reduce the eligibility criteria to require 1 year of business instead of 2


Program Overview                   FAQ                  
   OTHER RESOURCES          Our advocacy      

Work-Sharing Overview

Amount businesses can receive: The business does not receive any money. A work-sharing agreement allows the business to retain workers at a reduced cost by having employees receive EI to compensate for a part of the wages lost due to a reduction in available work hours.

Program duration: On-going. This program is not COVID-specific.

How to apply: Via e-mail to Service Canada. See FAQ below for details.

When to apply: Applications must be made at minimum 10 days before you wish the work-sharing agreement to start

Application deadline: No deadline, however program rules may change after March 14, 2021

Eligibility criteria: See the FAQ below for details.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the work-sharing program work?

An employer, participating employees, and Service Canada enter into an agreement that the employees will:

  • work reduced hours,
  • share available work, and
  • receive EI benefits to compensate for lost wages.

The program permits employers to retain experienced workers and avoid layoffs, while employees keep their jobs and maintain their skills.

Is my business eligible for the Work-Sharing Program?

To be eligible for the Work-Sharing Program, you must:

  • Have been in business in Canada year-round for at least 1 year;
  • Be a private business, a publicly held company, or non-for-profit organization;
  • Show a decrease in business activity of approximately 10%;
  • Have employees who are eligible to receive Employment Insurance benefits; and who will agree to a reduction of their normal working hours
  • Have a minimum of two employees;
  • Be willing to wait 10 days to negotiate your Workshare agreement.
Are my employees eligible for the Work-Sharing Program?

To be eligible for the Work-Sharing Program, employees must:

  • Be part of your core staff: permanent, year-round employees necessary to carry out the day-to-day functions of the business; or be considered vital to the recovery and viability of the business
  • Be eligible to receive EI benefits
  • Agree to reduce their normal working hours and to share any available work
How do I apply for the Work-Sharing Program?

Email the following two items to Service Canada to start the negotiation process for your workshare agreement (this will be unique for every location or work-sharing unit.)

Note: Service Canada must receive the package at least 10 days before the requested start date of the Work-Sharing Agreement.

Atlantic Provinces - [email protected]

Quebec - [email protected]

Ontario - [email protected]

Western Canada and Territories - [email protected]

Work-Sharing Resources

Government Resources

What is CFIB advocating for on Workshare?

What we have achieved:

  • Successfully lobbied to expand the work-sharing program during COVID and to reduce red tape in the application process
  • Alerted Service Canada to CERB & EI-workshare issues

What we’re pushing for:

  • Ensuring operational glitches are removed to maximize the potential of the work-sharing program during and after the pandemic.

Get more information

  • To see more about what CFIB has achieved during COVID-19, please see our summary of changes to the federal aid programs.


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