Ottawa extends work-share agreements

Employers, workers can now access EI support to avoid layoffs for up to 52 weeks

The federal government is extending the work-share program offered through employment insurance to one year to help employers weather the recession with fewer layoffs.

Under the work-share program, employees and the employer agree to a reduced workweek in lieu of layoffs and EI is paid to employees for the hours they're no longer working.

Currently, work-sharing agreements last for 26 weeks, with the option of a 12-week extension. Ottawa has now given employers the option to extend the agreements by a further 14 weeks, for a total of 52 weeks.

"Our government knows that by keeping Canadians working, we can minimize the impact of this difficult economic time," said Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. "The changes to work-sharing agreements will give companies easier access to these agreements and extend work sharing to 52 weeks while the companies recover from temporary slowdowns."

The measure will cost about $200 million over two years. The extensions are available immediately and will be in effect for all agreements starting between Feb. 1, 2009 and April 3, 2010.

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