Extending the Work-Sharing Program

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In Canada's Economic Action Plan, the Government of Canada increased access to the program for companies facing difficulties, by temporarily extending the duration of Work-Sharing agreements and providing greater flexibility in the qualifying criteria. Further temporary extensions were provided through the 2010 and 2011 budgets. Most recently, on November 8, 2011, the Government announced it would continue to make available a 16-week extension for active, recently terminated and new Work-Sharing agreements. This measure supports jobs and growth and a continued recovery for Canadian businesses and workers. It also helps reduce the financial impact of the economic downturn on workers, families and their communities.

About the Program

Work-Sharing is designed to help companies facing a temporary slowdown in business to avoid lay-offs, by offering Employment Insurance (EI) income support to employees willing to work a reduced work week while their employer recovers. This measure enables employers to retain employees and avoid expensive rehiring and retraining costs. Employees are able to continue working and keep their skills up to date.

How It Works

Work-Sharing involves a three-party agreement between employers, employees, and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)/Service Canada. Employers are responsible for setting up a schedule of work hours and notifying HRSDC/Service Canada officials of any changes in the time worked and the number of employees on Work-Sharing. Work-Sharing agreements do not affect workers' rights to regular EI benefits if they happen to be laid off after the agreement ends.

Who Is Eligible

To be eligible, employers must have been in business in Canada for at least two years and be able to show that the need for reduced hours is temporary and unavoidable, not a seasonal situation. They must produce a recovery plan which provides a clear outline of activities which will be undertaken in order to return to normal working hours. To qualify, permanent, full- and part-time employees must be eligible to receive regular EI benefits.

Initiative Update

The program has helped stabilize Canada's job market over the last three years by providing support to more than 300,000 employees, allowing businesses to keep their skilled workers. Approximately 15,000 participants continue to benefit from the Work-Sharing Program. On November 8, 2011, the Government made available extensions of up to 16 weeks for employers with new, active and recently ended Work-Sharing agreements (in addition to the regular maximum duration of 38 weeks). These extensions must end by October 27, 2012.

Find Out More

For more information, please visit the Service Canada website.

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