What is the wage subsidy (or CEWS)?
CEWS is the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, designed by the federal government to help keep workers connected to their employer.
The government reimburses employers for 75% of your “regular” wage, up to $847, calculated based on earnings from January & February. The Employer then must pass that along to you in the form of wages or taxable benefits.
Royal York announcing it will sign up means that those who are on layoff can be put back on payroll at the rate of 75% of your weekly earnings in the beginning of the year.
Do I have to be working to get the benefit?
No! The Royal York has committed to enroll all individuals who would benefit from the program relative to your current CERB benefits, regardless of whether you are working. Under Local 75’s agreement with the employer, you will receive the full amount calculated (75% of your early 2020 earning) as pay from the Royal York with federal taxes and Union dues deducted.
How much money will I get & for how long?
You will receive 75% of your weekly earnings based on your earnings in January and February on a weekly basis. Each person will be notified of this $ amount this week in the form of a personalized letter.
Unlike the $500/week CERB payments, taxes on CEWS will be taken out up front. In addition, Union dues will be deducted as on a normal paycheck.
Once enrolled, you will receive weekly payments of that set amount through the end of August.
This program is retroactive to March 11, meaning your first check will be very large, though you will be expected to pay back the CERB payments. Click here for more info on paying back CERB (https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/apply-for-cerb-with-cra/return-payment.html)
When will I start to get these payments?
Royal York management will be sending out letters early this week, and is aiming to process payments in time for June 19th pay period.
What does this do to my CERB/EI?
Individuals cannot be receiving BOTH CERB/EI payments and payments through the wage subsidy.
Therefore, a significant portion of the first payment from the Royal York should go to paying back the $500/week payments you’ve been receiving so far. For more on paying back CERB payments, go here: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/apply-for-cerb-with-cra/return-payment.html
**Paying back CERB now means you won’t have to worry about the tax bill on those CERB payments next year**
Once CEWS expires at the end of August, you will then be permitted to re-enroll in CERB, and be entitled to 500/wk payments until CERB expires on October 6, at which point you can return to regular EI.
Can I still decline work?
Royal York has committed to the Union to be respectful of the wishes of anyone who does not feel comfortable coming to work or who is unable to due to childcare or other situations, without doctors’ notes.
What if I don’t benefit from payments of 75%?
The Royal York is permitting those for whom 75% of January & February earnings is not beneficial relative to CERB payments (many tipped employees, or those who didn’t work a lot of hours in the beginning of the year) to remain on CERB.
CERB payments of $500/week lasts 16 weeks total, after which you return to regular EI at 55% of your regular weekly earnings. More work is needed to push to extend CERB – EI at 55% will not be enough!
How do tips or gratuities factor into this program?
Any income that is tracked or processed by the employer is included in the calculation of regular income, similar to EI. This means that gratuities earned in January and February would count toward the calculation of 75% of the weekly income you can earn through CEWS.
Unfortunately, this is another program that does not account for the significant portion of income that comes from cash tips, something we’ve raised and will continue to raise to the government.