Work-Sharing Program

work sharing
 Courtesy Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Courtesy Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Work-Sharing helps prevent layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the employer’s control. 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 (EI) benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while the business recovers.


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.


How much money does the business 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. 


Is my business eligible for the Work-Sharing Program?

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

  • Have been in business in Canada year-round for at least 2 years.
  • Be a private business, a publicly held company, or not-for-profit organization.
  • Show a decrease in business activity of approximately 10% in the last 6 months for reasons beyond the employer’s control.
  • Have a minimum of 2 employees who are:
    • core to your daily business operations,
    • eligible to receive EI benefits; and
    • willing to equally reduce their normal working hours by the same percentage.


What are the responsibilities?

Employer: the employer must designate an employer representative who has signing authority for the business. The employer applies for Work-Sharing and ensures all representatives (employer, employee, union if applicable) attest and agree to submit the application. 


The employer representative cannot be one of the employees taking part in work-sharing. 


For the full breakdown of employer responsibilities, please visit the Work-Sharing site


Employee Representative: the employees participating in the work-sharing must authorize one employee to represent them. This representative acts as the voice for all the employees participating in the work-sharing. If the workplace is unionized, the employee representative may be a member of, and designated by the union. 


For the full breakdown of the employee responsibilities, please visit the Work-Sharing site.


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.


Government Resources

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at

Stay Connected!

Subscribe to FitBizWeekly’s FREE newsletter for news, commentary, idea sharing and developments across the Canadian health and fitness industry.

By clicking on the Subscribe button you agree to be on our newsletter list. You can opt out anytime. We respect your privacy. Your information will not be shared and your email address will be stored safely.