Employment Insurance Benefits – A Brief Overview [video]

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This lecture explains the various types of employment insurance benefits available to Canadians. The lecture also provides a brief overview of the eligibility requirements for regular benefits which may become due upon the end of employment. The lecture further explains the insurable hours, the amount and duration of regular benefits.

This lecture is taught by Amer Mushtaq, LL.B., M. Engineering , B.Sc. (Hons.), who is the Principal and Founder of Formative LLP.   Through his YouTube channel, YouCounsel, Amer shares practical advice from his years of legal experience to help anyone access justice and achieve their goals.  Subscribe today to learn more.

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Welcome everyone this is Amer Mushtaq from You Counsel. Today, we’ll talk about Employment Insurance Benefits and will provide you with a very brief overview of the types of benefits that you get from the Employment Insurance System and we’ll talk a little bit more about the regular benefits and when you are entitled to those benefits and how do you go about obtaining those benefits.

We begin as always with our usual disclaimer, that this course is not legal advice so, if you have any specific questions you must contact a lawyer or a paralegal or contact The Law Society of Upper Canada and in this case, you may contact Service Canada for further information about your potential Employment Insurance Benefits.

We’ll explain to you what the Employment Insurance Benefits are, we’ll explain what types of benefits you may be entitled to, then will get into our discussion about regular benefits, what are the eligibility requirements for you to get regular benefits, when to apply for regular benefits, how much benefits can you get, for how long can you get these benefits, and when and where to apply for regular Employment Insurance Benefits.

So, Employment Insurance Benefits is really a governmental program and what it does is it provides income support and unemployment assistance for eligible unemployed persons. It’s important for you to understand that not every unemployed person is entitled to Employment Insurance Benefits. You must be eligible for these benefits and there are different eligibility requirements, so, let’s look into the types of employment insurance benefits that are available.

Number one is regular Employment Insurance Benefits – this is the most common one. When you lose your employment are you entitled to regular benefits or not? Sickness is another category. If you are ill and you need some time off, you may be eligible for sickness benefits, you may be eligible for maternity, parental benefits, compassionate care benefits, parents of critically ill or injured children you may be entitled to certain benefits in that category. Fishing has a separate category where you may be entitled to benefits, and then developmental programs is another category. So, these are different kinds of types of Employment Insurance Benefits and depending upon your circumstances, you may be entitled to benefits under one of these categories.

Now each category has its own eligibility criteria and we’re not going to discuss all of these categories today but we’ll focus our discussion on regular Employment Insurance Benefits, which is the most common category and we’ll talk a little bit more about that category.

So, what is the eligibility requirement for regular benefits? First of all, you were employed in an insurable employment, it’s an important to underline the word “Insurable Employment,” so, what it means is that you and your employer were paying E.I. premiums to the C.R.A. and how you figure that out, you can look at one of your pay stubs and you will see that there will be an E.I. deduction in your pay and sent to C.R.A. and that indicates that those hours that you have worked are insurable hours. So, if you have any doubt, I mean the only reason why you may not be paying for E.I. premiums is if you are an independent contractor, actually that’s one of the reasons. So, you may be an independent contractor and may not be remitting premiums or your employer that you have contracted with may not be remitting because you’re not considered an employee.

But if you are in doubt or if you notice that the E.I. premiums have not been remitted from your salary, but you believe that you should be entitled to or you should have been entitled to E.I. benefits, then it’s always a good idea to check with Service Canada to make sure that you are still entitled to it and Service Canada can look into whether it was an infraction on part of the employer for not deducting your E.I. premiums. So, insurable employment is an essential category for you to be entitled to regular benefits.

Second, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own. So, this is the end of employment, termination of employment situation, where you have been terminated from your employment but it was not your fault. And what is no fault of your own, what is considered a fault, what is not considered a fault? Employment Insurance Act has its own definition of that, so, what a court may consider a fault or a cause, the Employment Insurance Act may have a different definition of that. So as long as you are covered under the no-fault of your own category under the Employment Insurance Act, you may be fine. So, one example I can give you is that in some cases when an employee is terminated with-cause by the employer and that with-cause is being claimed as a category under the common law or the courts you may still apply for E.I. benefits and you may still get them. So just because you have been found or the employer’s actions have been found to suffice the with-cause dismissal, it does not necessarily mean that you may not get Employment Insurance Benefits. Another situation could be that even though your employer has terminated you with-cause, you may dispute the decision of the employer and so you, should still apply for your E.I. benefits and claim that.

So E.I. and Service Canada has its own system, has its own process of determining whether the determination of your employment was indeed no fault of your own and you can go through that process, this process is separate from the court process. Now, another factor that needs to be kept in mind, is that you are without work or pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks. Obviously, if your employment is terminated you are not getting any pay or you’re not working and that is why you are applying for E.I. benefits. But one confusion that often arises in this category is that, let’s say you were terminated yesterday and that was the last day of your employment, but the employer has provided you with termination and or severance pay that may run for the next 10 weeks or so. Even though you’re not working, you’re still getting paid for those 10 weeks so you are not without pay for that 10 weeks period even though your last day of work was yesterday. So, in that case your eligibility begins after the money that has been paid to you for termination and severance is exhausted. So, often times employees who are terminated they’re confused about it but the major principle to keep in mind is that there’s no concept of double dipping, you can’t have both the E.I. and the termination pay or reasonable notice pay for the same time period.

Okay, so you must have worked for the required number of insurable hours this word keeps popping up again, insurable hours. So, there must be a minimum number of insurable hours that you have worked in the last 52 weeks of your employer, the last 52 weeks from the time you’re filing your claim, or the start of your last E.I. claim, so, if you had another E.I. claim let’s say maternity claim or sickness claim in the last 52 weeks, then the time period of 52 weeks begins, the insurable hours time period begins from the last E.I. claim to your next claim. So, that’s how the insurable hours are calculated.

You must be ready willing and capable of working each day, it’s important for you to understand that if you had been terminated but now you are ill for some reason or got into a car accident and are injured and are not capable of working each day, then you are not entitled to E.I. regular benefits. You may be entitled to some other benefits, perhaps sickness benefits, but you will not be entitled to regular benefits. An example of this, another example of this, could be when people are terminated they are on E.I. benefits and then they decide to go out of the country, let’s say to the Bahamas for a vacation, then they are not entitled for that time period to get E.I. regular benefits because they are not ready, willing, and capable of working each day.

You are also required to actively look for work during this time and you are required to have written records of all your job searches to prove that you have been actively looking for work. So, these are the eligibility requirements if you meet all of these requirements, then you may be entitled to regular benefits.

We talked about insurable hours. What are the number of hours that you must complete to be eligible for regular benefits? The insurable hours should be between 420 to 700 hours. And why is there a range? Because the number of hours that will apply in your case depend upon the regional unemployment rate and if you don’t know what is the regional unemployment rate in your area, you can go on this website, I have provided a link here, and you will see it under the description down in the YouTube video and you can go on that and find out, put your postal code and you’ll find out your regional unemployment rate.

So why this range? Because if the unemployment rate is higher in your region you may be required, you may be required to have less hours. So, if the unemployment rate for example is more than 13% percent in your region you may be required to have 420 hours to be sufficient to get the regular benefits and so, less the unemployment rate the higher the requirements are.

Also, remember that if you have a prior E.I. violation your requirement of the insurable hours may be higher and one example of E.I. violation is the example that I was giving you in the previous slide, that let’s say if you were getting regular E.I. benefits the last time and you went away to the Bahamas and you did not report to Service Canada that you are going away and you should not be getting your E.I. regular benefits for that time period and Service Canada finds out, and they will find out that you have been away and still claiming your E.I. benefits. Then you will receive a notice of violation which will indicate that you have to return the money for the time period that you are absent and that is a violation that will be on your record. So, if you have that violation or a similar E.I. violation in your prior history then the result of that could be that you may be required to have more insurable hours to be eligible for E.I. benefits.

Now, how much E.I. benefits what is the dollar amount of your benefits that you can get? It is not based on your needs or your financial obligations. If you have a house and two cottages and you’re paying a lot of mortgage it does not matter with respect to the calculation of your E.I. benefits. The benefits are calculated based upon your income and it is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings or 55% percent of your weekly earning and it has to be of course insurable, and then you will get those benefits. And up to a maximum of $543 per week gross pay. So, there is a maximum limit of $543 per hour but as you can tell that the higher your income is, the more E.I. regular benefits you can get up to this maximum.

You can also get Family Supplement. This is an additional income that you may be entitled to and when would you get that kind of family supplement? If your net family income does not exceed $25,921 per year. Remember it’s net, meaning that after taxes, this is the money in your pocket. Family income, so not just yours but your entire family’s income after taxes. If it does not exceed $25,921 that’s one category, one requirement for you to get Family Supplemental Income and you have children and your spouse receives Canada Child Benefits. So, if you meet all these three requirements then you may be entitled to Family Supplement on top of your regular benefits and the amount of that Family Supplement depends on your net income, number of children you have, and their ages.

What is the duration of regular benefits? It is 14 to 45 weeks, so, again, it’s a range and why this range? Because again, depends upon the unemployment rate in your region. So the higher the unemployment rate is, the longer it will be the time period for which you may be entitled to regular benefits.

When and where to apply? So, there is a seven day waiting period if your employment ends yesterday you have seven days waiting period during which you have not earned any income or have not had a job and then you apply for your E.I. benefits. You must apply immediately … you should not wait. If you are in doubt in any situation, my advice is that you should apply for your E.I. benefits and then let Service Canada figure out whether you are entitled to those benefits or not, but if you are in doubt my suggestion is to apply. So why, because if you delay applying for your E.I. benefits for more than four weeks, there is a possibility that you may not even get benefits even though you may be meeting all the other requirements, so, it’s essential that you apply immediately. And you should also apply even if you have not received your record of employment, you should apply, have your file started with Service Canada, so, that once your record of employment is received your application is processed.

You can apply online or through one of the Service Canada offices by visiting them. I will suggest you do it online it is not complicated, and this is the website you go to, to apply online.

If you require more information about Employment Insurance Benefits, I’ve provided this link for the governmental website that has a very, very detailed information on their website that you can check that information out about other benefits. We will in our future lectures, try to give you a summary of each category of benefits so, that you have a larger overview of those kinds of benefits. I hope this was helpful and thank you for watching.

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