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Details on the Canada Work-Sharing Program

Last updated: Mar. 29, 2021 

Originally published March 27, 2020.

The following is archived material. Please refer to the federal government for additional information. 

To help employers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has announced temporary special measures to the Work-Sharing Program.

What is the Work-Sharing Program?

Work-Sharing is an Employment Insurance (EI) program that helps employers avoid layoffs. The program is an agreement between employers, employees and the Government of Canada that allows businesses to keep their employees when there’s a disruption to business beyond the employer’s control.

Under the program, employees who agree to reduce their work hours receive EI benefits.

What are the temporary changes to the Work-Sharing Program?

  • 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 previous requirements for a recovery plan to a single line of text within the application form
  • 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

The temporary special measures are effective from March 15 2020 to March 14 2021 and are not limited to one specific sector or industry.

Am I eligible for the Work-Sharing Program?

You may be eligible for the Work-Sharing program and the Special Measures for COVID-19 if:

  • You have you been in business for at least 1 year
  • You have 2 or more employees that are normally year-round permanent, full or part time that are ‘core’ staff for your business
  • Your employees are eligible and willing to receive Employment Insurance benefits and agree to a reduction in hours to share any available work
  • Your business is a publicly held company or a private business
  • You are a not-for-profit employer experiencing a shortage of work due to a reduction of business activity and/or a reduction in revenue levels due to COVID-19

Ineligible employers:

Your business is not eligible for Work-Sharing if it is experiencing a reduction in business activity due to:

  • A labour dispute
  • A seasonal shortage of work
  • A recent increase in the size of the workforce
  • Self employed

And if you are a:

  • Shareholder who is responsible for the direction of the company and who holds 40% and more of the voting shares
  • Employer who operates solely for the purpose of carrying out the administration of a government program/activity that is purely government in nature. For example:
    • Municipalities
    • Government agencies

How do I apply for the Work-Sharing Program?

It is important to understand the Work-Sharing eligibility criteria and program terms and conditions before applying:

To submit a request for a new agreement or for an extension, you must submit the following documents:

Applications are to be submitted via email:


Contact FBC

Have questions about this or other COVID-19 programs for Canadian businesses? Unlimited consultation related to tax matters is a key benefit of FBC Membership. We’re offering a free consult where we get to know your business and determine next steps on saving you time and money. Request a consultation online.

You can also visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre for the latest information for Canadian business owners.


Disclaimer: The material above is provided for educational and informational purposes only.