The current situation we are in is unprecedented and our responses as business owners will be as individual as our businesses themselves. Some will be able to easily move to work from home models with little interruption, some will take this opportunity to pivot and alter service offerings. But most will likely have to make some pretty tough decisions. Just know that there are resources out there to help. At the end of this article, I’ll provide some links to various business organizations who are a good source of information.
In the meantime, here is an overview of some options recently announced by the federal government that are available for employers to ease the burden of reduced revenue due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please note that these are just some of the programs available and that information is changing daily.
An EI program put in place to help businesses avoid layoffs during times of hardship. The program allows EI eligible employees to reduce hours and share workloads with the expectation that employees will return to normal hours and workloads once the agreement ends.
Measures have been announced to extend the regular Work Sharing program to extend the agreement period from 38 weeks to up to 76 weeks and to waive mandatory waiting periods.
There must be a decline in business activity by at least 10% and this decline must be directly or indirectly related to COVID-19 and not due to normal business fluctuations (such as a recurring period of slowdown).
Available to privately and publicly held companies as well as non-profits who have been in business for two full years.
Businesses wishing to avail of the Work Sharing program must have at least two eligible full-time employees able to participate in the program (sharing the work equally) and there must be a plan in place to support business recovery.
Businesses that experience shortages of work due to seasonal operations or have only recently increased their workforce may not be able to avail of this Work Sharing program.
Employees who are considered essential to operations such as senior management, executive and sales staff would not be considered eligible. Employees who have been hired on a temporary basis or are considered casual would not be eligible either. The program is not available to employees who hold voting shares (more than 40%).
For more information or to begin an application to this program, please visit Canada.ca.
Top Up Programs for Employees on EI
If you have to temporarily lay off employees due to reduced business operations, you may be able to register under the Supplementary Unemployment Benefits Plan. These plans must be registered before they become effective. Just a few highlights of the plan are as follows:
- Top-up amount combined with benefit amount must not exceed 95% of the employee’s weekly wage
- Employees have to apply for and be in receipt of EI benefits
- Changes to the plan must be submitted to Service Canada by way of written notice
For an extensive list of SUBP requirements and more information on plan details, please visit Canada.ca.
10% Wage Subsidy
Relief for small businesses with a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. This option will be available for corporations who are eligible for small business deductions and for not for profit organizations. Details of this program are still emerging. For more information, please visit Canada.ca.
In times of business uncertainty, we look to business associations and our network of business owners. Below is a list of some business organizations and government departments that may be able to offer valuable resources:
If you have any payroll related questions or would like to discuss a payroll continuity plan, please feel free to contact GET Payroll Solutions.