What Is Employment Insurance?
In Canada, employment insurance (“EI”) is a program designed to financial assist individuals who have become unemployed through no fault of their own. There are several different criteria to meet to be eligible for the various programs that are available through employment insurance. The various program will be outlined below.
Regular employment insurance benefits predate COVID-19 and are usually the most common form of EI used. Those who would be eligible for employment insurance typically include situations such as:
- If you were laid off
- If you were dismissed without cause
- If you are unable to work due to financial hardship or shortage of work from the employer
Employees should keep in mind that they would only qualify if they are unable to work due to no fault of their own, this means that a resignation would result in an employee not being eligible
Do I Qualify for Employment Insurance During COVID-19?
To qualify for employment insurance during COVID-19, an employee must meet certain criteria. The employee must have paid into the employment insurance program, which can be confirmed if the employer deducted employment insurance from the employee’s paycheque.
The employee must have also worked a certain number of hours to qualify depending on the province the employee is located in. If an individual applied for employment insurance in the past, they would need to work the same number of hours, whichever is shorter. The Government of Canada website assists individuals determine the employment insurance benefits for each region, with eligibility criteria.
Some employees may be wondering, can I apply for EI if my hours are reduced? Employees must be without work for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks in order to qualify for EI. Individuals must also be actively looking for new employment, and must be ready, willing and capable of working each day.
What Other Types of Benefits Are Available Under Employment Insurance?
EI Sickness Benefits
Sickness benefits under the EI program provide individuals with up to 15 weeks of income replacement (up to 55% of your insurable earnings, capped at $573 per week), for employees who can no longer work due to a medical reason. Prior to COVID-19, a medical certificate was required to prove a sickness in order to qualify. Due to COVID-19, this requirement has been removed, and employees are no longer required to submit a medical certificate to qualify for EI sickness benefits.
Medical reasons may include:
- Self-quarantine or required quarantine
- Any medical condition which prevents the employee from working
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”) was established to assist employees/individuals who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. CERB applies to workers who:
- Had to stop working because of reasons related to COVID-19, are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits, or have exhausted their EI regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;
- Reside in Canada, and are at least 15 years old;
- Had employment or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application;
- Did not quit their job voluntarily
Do I Qualify for CERB or EI?
Employees should be mindful that they cannot receive EI benefits and CERB simultaneously. On more details on whether you should apply for EI or CERB if you have lost your job through no fault of your own, visit our previous article on the topic.
If you are an employer who has questions pertaining to the dismissal or layoffs of your employees, or an employee who has been laid off or dismissed, our team of experienced workplace 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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