• Retention

  December 16, 2016

Federal Program Offers Alternative Option to Impending Layoffs of Core Staff

There may be a welcome solution for tourism and hospitality employers who are struggling to balance the economic challenges when the possibility of impending layoffs arises

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2 min read

The federal government’s Work-Sharing Program is designed to help employers who want to keep their staff, but who are facing a reduction in the normal level of business activity due to circumstances outside their control.

Rather than issuing pink slips, the Work-Sharing Program allows employers to reduce staff hours and initiate job sharing tactics, while the federal government provides supplementary income support to their employees, provided they are eligible for Employment Insurance benefits. This agreement can last up to 38 weeks if required.

Geared towards assisting employers with wage costs for core staff members, the program helps organizations avoid the costly process of recruiting and training new employees when business returns to normal. On the flip side, employees maintain their skills and receive some compensation for their reduced schedules.

If you have been in a year round operation in Canada for at least two years and business has declined by a minimum of 10 per cent, and you can show the unavoidable need for reduced hours as well as demonstrate your commitment to a recovery plan, you may be eligible for the program.

Employers with reduced business activity due to a labour dispute, shortage of seasonal work, or shortage of business activity due to an increase in employees are not eligible.

This plan was an attractive option for tourism and hospitality employers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the government once again put in place special measures regarding the program due to wildfires from June until November of 2023. If your business has been recently affected by an event beyond your control, stay up to date on the program to see if any special measures that increase the support offered, or make eligibility more flexible apply to your business.

go2HR has spoken with Service Canada representatives, the government department that oversees the Work-Sharing program, and they have clarified that a demonstrated recovery plan, given these trying financial times, could include a range of options such as more aggressive partnerships with Destination Management Organizations (DMOs), marketing plans to tap new client bases, joint efforts on the part of local businesses to package their services to reduce advertising costs, and other creative steps to drum up new business in the face of an unprecedented economic downturn.

Although the eligibility criteria state that seasonal activities are not eligible, go2HR has been informed by Service Canada that the program may be applied to seasonal businesses struggling during their high seasons. For example, while a ski hill would not qualify during the summer months, an application could be made should the downturn in business be experienced during the cold weather months.

The bottom line is, when you’ve finally found great staff members, the last thing you want to have to do is show them the door, especially when you don’t know how soon you may want them back. The Work-Sharing program may be just what you need to bridge that gap.

For more information on the program and the application process, click here.

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