The Canadian government offers regular employment insurance benefits, better known as EI, to people who are out of work. EI provides temporary payments to people who meet certain conditions. But what happens to employment insurance when you quit? If you were terminated from your job with cause, or if you quit your job, you are generally not entitled to EI benefits.
Conditions to Qualify for EI
To be eligible for EI, you must meet certain conditions, which are outlined in the Employment Insurance Act. Some of these conditions are expanded on below.
First, you must have paid into the EI program while you were employed. If you are unsure whether you did so, check if your employer deducted an EI amount from your paycheques.
Second, you must have worked a certain amount of hours, to depending on the region you are located. The Government of Canada website can help you determine the EI program characteristics for your region, for a certain time period. For example, you can enter your postal code and find out information such as the unemployment rate in the region, the range of weeks payable for regular EI (up to a maximum of 45 weeks), among other details.
Third, you must be without pay for at least seven days to qualify for EI.
Other conditions can also impact whether you qualify, such as whether you are ready, willing, and capable of working each day and whether you are actively seeking work.
It is important to know that there are different types of EI benefits and leaves offered. As such, there are various eligibility requirements when applying for sickness benefits, maternity and parental benefits, caregiving benefits and leave, among others. You can find more information here.
Voluntarily Leaving your Job and EI
If you are fired for just cause, or if you voluntarily leave your job, you generally are not eligible for EI. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, you may still be entitled to regular EI benefits if you can demonstrate that quitting your job was the only reasonable alternative for you, or if you involuntarily resigned.
There are various reasons that may demonstrate you had to leave your job as you had no other reasonable choice. For example, major changes in your work duties, sexual harassment, discrimination, unsafe working conditions, your employer breaking the law, and not receiving the wages you are legally owed, among others.
Where you may have a justifiable reason for leaving your job, it is important to show that you utilized all reasonable alternatives available to try to solve the problem and continue in your employment.
Also remember that if you choose not to return to work when recalled after a lay-off, this is likely considered quitting. You need to show you lost your job through no fault of your own.
If you quit your job and are wondering what happens to employment insurance when you quit, or if you are considering quitting your job but you are worried about whether you will be eligible for EI, we recommend that you seek legal advice from an experienced employment lawyer.
Changes Due to COVID-19
Since regular EI benefits are available to employees who lose their job through no fault of their own, you would be eligible for EI if you were laid off or terminated because your employer has a shortage of work. However, you cannot apply for EI if your work hours were simply reduced. The requirement to have been without work and without pay for at least 7 consecutive days (in the last 52 weeks) remains.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EI program underwent some temporary changes. For example, as of August 9, 2020, a minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% applies to all regions across the country. Further, the amount of insured hours you need to qualify was reduced to 120 hours. To stay up-to-date with such changes, regularly visit the Government of Canada’s website.
If you are an employer and are facing a constructive dismissal claim, or an employee who has involuntarily resigned, our team of experienced employment lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to assist.
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