EI Work Sharing Program and the COVID-19 Pandemic

What is it?

This program is designed to avoid layoffs by allowing a group of employees to work reduced hours and share their available work. The program provides EI benefits to the eligible employees who agree to the work sharing program. Work sharing (WS) agreements are made between Service Canada and employers, employees (and their unions, if applicable).

How long does it take to be approved?

Prior to COVID-19, employers were requested to send their Work-Sharing application (and supporting documentation) 30 calendar days prior to their requested start date. Due to COVID-19, this has been reduced to only 10 calendar days. In addition, Service Canada aims to reduce their processing time to 10 or fewer days.

How do I apply?

To apply for the Work-Sharing program, employers must submit:

For Ontario based businesses, send your application to [email protected]

Key Program Features

Effective March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021, here are a few more special Work-Sharing temporary measures to support employers and workers affected by COVID-19:

  • 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
  • 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

More information

For more information on the EI Work Sharing program, please visit this page and click on Work-Sharing Program. You can also view this PDF version of a Powerpoint presentation from Service Canada outlining the program.

Stay safe.

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