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Employment Insurance (EI) Work Sharing Program

Revised February 22, 2021

The response to COVID-19 has been evolving at a rapid pace.  Be sure  to visit  the COVID-19 Service Canada website for updates at:

What is Work Sharing?

Work Sharing is a federal Human Resources & Skills Development Canada (Service Canada) program funded by Employment Insurance (EI). The goal is to assist employers and workers to avoid temporary lay offs when there is an unusual slowdown in production or service. The program is not intended to deal with a seasonal slowdown. EI will only consider a joint Work Sharing application, signed by both the employer and union. During Work Sharing, the available work is redistributed through a reduction in hours worked by all employees within 1 or more work units. The reduction must be at least 20% (e.g. 1 day weekly) or the equivalent for workers with irregular shifts. Eligible workers receive EI Work Sharing Benefits during their time off.

Temporary Special Measures as a result of Covid 19

The Work-Sharing program is implementing temporary special measures to support employers and employees affected by the downturn in business caused by COVID-19. The new temporary special measures are available to employers impacted directly or indirectly by COVID-19. The measures allow for eligible employers to retain skilled employees and workers to remain employed during the temporary downturn in business due to COVID-19. The temporary special measures will:

• Extend the Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks;

• Wave the mandatory waiting period between agreements;

• Ease the recovery plan requirements.

How long does a Work Sharing Agreement Last?

Work Sharing runs for 6 to 26 weeks. It’s possible to get a 12 week extension if the company and union jointly apply and Service Canada approves it.

How much are EI Work Sharing Benefits?

Work Sharing benefits are paid for each shift off on Work Sharing. Those who are eligible for EI (or become eligible during Work Sharing) fill out a special short form application. The usual 1 week EI waiting period is deferred so benefits are paid from the first week on Work Sharing. The benefit is 55% of normal earnings, capped at the EI maximum. Those with 2021 net taxable income over $70,375 will be required to re-pay 30% of the lesser of: their net income in excess of $70,375 or the total regular benefits paid in the taxation year.

EI benefits at tax time (not applicable if collecting EI for the first time in 10 years).

Does Work Sharing Effect Other E.I. Entitlements?

No. A worker is still eligible for a normal EI benefit period on the same claim if the worker is laid off or takes maternity, parental or sick leave after Work Sharing. The weeks on Work Sharing do not reduce the normal duration of that claim and the benefit rate is the same. During Work Sharing workers are also collecting extra hours for a future EI claim.

What if I’m offered Other Work during Work Sharing?

If the earnings received are less than the Earning Threshold (i.e. 90% of the Weekly Insurable Earnings [WIE] used to calculate the Employment Insurance claim), 50% of the earnings will be deducted from any Work-Sharing benefits payable. If the earnings received are more than the Earning Threshold but less than the WIE, 50% of the earnings up to the Earning Threshold will be deducted as well as 100% of the earnings over the Earning Threshold.

What About Paid Holidays?

Paid holidays are not compensated by EI Work Sharing. The company continues to pay them. If a paid holiday falls during a Work Sharing week, it doesn’t count towards the % reduction so it must be made up otherwise (e.g. another day off that week).

What if Problems Come Up during Work Sharing?

Management and the union can establish a Work Sharing Committee to meet regularly to discuss difficulties or new developments and to oversee implementation. The union, employer, or government can withdraw from Work Sharing with reasonable notice. EI will consider program amendments if both the company and union are agreeable.