Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is an employer required to pay for sick leave, job orientation, training, or meetings?

There is no requirement for an employer to give an employee paid sick leave. However, if sick leave is paid or allowed, it may not be deducted at a later date from any other entitlement to a paid holiday, vacation pay, or other wages. If the employer directs an employee to attend specific training or meetings, the employer must pay. Where an employer requires an employee's attendance on the employee's regular day off, the employee may be eligible for overtime, minimum daily pay, or other entitlements under the Employment Standards Act. 

Source: ESB

2. May an employer require an employee to work overtime?
An employer may require an employee to work overtime as long as the employer pays the applicable overtime wage rates, and the hours worked are not excessive or detrimental to the employee's health or safety.  

Source: ESB

3. Is the time spent getting to and from a worksite considered to be work?
Normally, the trip from home to work is considered to be a commute. No work is performed regardless of who provides the vehicle. The trip from home to the worksite becomes work when the employee provides a service to the employer by bringing employer-provided tools, equipment, supplies or material to the worksite. The trip is also considered to be work if an employee, at the direction of the employer, brings other employees from their homes or a designated meeting place to the worksite. 

Source: ESB

4. How can I show an employer I have previous paid work experience?
Proof of previous employment can include any of the following:

  • Record of employment;
  • Pay stubs or a T4 slip;
  • Written confirmation from a previous employer;
  • Other reasonable proof acceptable to the employer such as a verbal reference.

Source: ESB

5. How do I file for unemployment insurance?
Consult the Employment Insurance regular benefits page for information about whether or not you are eligible to receive EI benefits and, if so, how much you are entitled to receive. You have to file your EI claim online.

Source: Service Canada

6. How many hours or weeks of work do I need to qualify for Employment Insurance?
The number of hours or weeks you need to qualify for EI is based on where you live and the unemployment rate in your economic region at the time you file your claim.

You can find EI information for your region by clicking on the links below:

7. Do I need someone to represent me at a Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal hearing?
You may appeal on your own of course, but you might also want to ask for assistance from someone familiar with the workers' compensation system, such as a union representative, compensation consultant, or lawyer.

You can get free help with your appeal from a workers' adviser.

Source: Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal

 

Employment Insurance FAQ's - All Answers Provided By Kevin Love, Barrister & Solicitor with CLAS

How can I learn more about qualifying for EI?

8. If a worker has not completed 910 hours within the last 52 weeks, can EI look into the previous 52 weeks?
9. What happens if you apply after the 4 week limit?
10. Can a person receive EI if their hours are reduced?
11. What is the definition of "new to the Canadian workforce"?

12. What if someone simply didn't earn enough hours due to a shortage of work in the previous year? Or if they were sick or injured?

13. How does Service Canada determine the length of time a person is entitled to regular benefits?

14. Why only consider the number of hours worked last year to qualify for EI? What about if the person has not worked or earned enough hours due to an accident last year?

15. Why have different EI areas in different areas of BC?

16. What is the difference between reactivating a claim and applying for EI?

17. What is the difference between reactivating an EI claim, applying for EI as a new case (ie. close the old file and open a new one) and under what circumstances should a worker do both?

18. Is a casual worker eligible for EI and if so, when should they apply?

19. How can a casual worker accumulate his hours from the past year?

20. If an employer does not deduct EI from the employee, how can an employee apply for EI benefits when the employee has not given contributions?

21. Can you explain a "reach back" for someone who was on EI a couple of years ago, but is now seeking employment again?

22. Can you elaborate on getting fired for misconduct? If a person gets fired for a performance or work error, does this worker still qualify for EI?

9. If a worker has not completed 910 hours within the last 52 weeks, can EI look into the previous 52 weeks?
Generally, no. There are exceptions where EI will look back past 52. For example, if the person was too sick to work for part of the year or in jail. 

10. What happens if you apply after the 4 week limit?
It means that EI will look back 52 weeks from the date of your application, not the date you had an interruption of earnings. For example, suppose someone has an interruption of earnings on August 1, 2011 following a lay-off.

- If they apply within 4 weeks, EI will look at hours they worked between Aug 1, 2010 and Aug 1, 2011.
- If they wait and apply 7 weeks later on Sept 19, 2011, EI will look at the hours they worked between Sept 19, 2010 and Sept 19, 2011.

In other words, if the person applies late, they will get no credit for the hours they accumulated between August 1, 2010 and September 19, 2010, which can hurt their chances of qualifying and decrease the number of weeks of benefits they can get.

11. Can a person receive EI if their hours are reduced?
Not for regular EI benefits because the person needs 7 days without any work or earnings. For special EI benefits, (maternity, parental, compassionate care, medical), a person can get benefits if their hours are reduced by more than 40%. 

12. What is the definition "new to the Canadian workforce"?
If a person does not have 490 hours of workforce attachment in the year before their 52 week qualifying period, they are a new entrant / re-entrant to the workforce. In other words, EI looks 2 years back.

You'll notice I used the words "workforce attachment", and not simply "insurable hours". While EI only looks at insurable hours in the 52 week qualifying period to determine if someone has enough hours to qualify, EI will count not only "insurable hours", but also certain other activities when determining if a person is a new entrant / re-entrant. For example, people on workers' compensation benefits or people who are attending an EI approved training program will be credited with 35 hours per week of "workforce attachment".

Here is an example. Suppose someone has an interruption of earnings on August 1, 2011 following a lay-off. To determine if the person is a new entrant / re-entrant, the EI people will look at the year between August 1, 2009 and August 1, 2010 (i.e. two years back). 

- If the person has at least 490 hours of workforce attachment between August 1, 2009 and August 1, 2010, they are not a new entrant / re-entrant and will need the usual number of hours (between 420 and 700) in their qualifying period, which runs from August 1, 2010 to August 1, 2011.
- If the person has fewer than 490 hours of workforce attachment between August 1, 2009 and August 1, 2010, they are a new entrant / re-entrant and will need 910 hours in their qualifying period, which runs from August 1, 2010 to August 1, 2011.  

So for someone who has more than 490 hours 2 years back, it looks like this:

August 1, 2009 ---------- more than 490 hours --------- August 1, 2010
August 1, 2010 --------- usual hours needed to qualify, 420-700 ---------- August 1, 2011

For someone who has fewer than 490 hours 2 years back, they are a new entrant / re-entrant and it looks like this:

August 1, 2009 ---------- less than 490 hours --------- August 1, 2010
August 1, 2010 --------- 910 hours needed to qualify ---------- August 1, 2011

Just for your information, there is not a practical difference between a "new entrant" and a "re-entrant". New entrants are working in Canada for the first time, re-entrants are returning to the workforce after a lengthy absence.

13. What happens if someone simply didn't earn enough hours due to a shortage of work in the previous year? Or if they were sick or injured?
If it was just a shortage of work, they won't qualify. If they were too sick to work, EI can look past 1 year to see if the person has enough hours. For example, if someone had an interruption of earnings on August 1, 2011 following a layoff, EI would normally look at the period between August 1, 2010 and August 1, 2011 to see if they have enough hours to qualify. 

However, if the person was too sick to work for two months in May and June of 2011, EI will look back 2 extra months to see if the person has enough hours. In other words, EI will look back 14 months instead of 12 months, between June 1, 2010 and August 1, 2011.  

14. How does Service Canada determine the length of time a person is entitled to regular benefits?
It depends on two factors: 

- The unemployment rate inthe region. 
- The number of hours the person has worked in the past year.

More hours worked and higher unemployment means more weeks.
Fewer hours worked and lower unemployment means less weeks.

There is a big chart in the schedule at the end of the Employment Insurance Act that shows how many hours people will get. 

15. Why only consider the number of hours worked last year to qualify for EI? What about if the person has not worked or earned enough hours due to an accident last year?
If a person cannot work for medical reasons, EI can look back farther than a year. For example, if someone was too sick to work for 2 months, EI will look back 14 months instead of the usual 12 months.   

16. Why have different EI areas in different areas in BC?
This is because the unemployment rate is vastly different in different areas of the province. EI feels that people in areas with fewer jobs (i.e. northern BC) should be treated differently than people in areas with more jobs (i.e. Victoria). There have been some proposals to get rid of the different regions, but to date, they have not done so.   

17. What is the difference between reactivating a claim and applying for EI?
An initial application for EI benefits means the person is starting a brand new claim. 

"Reactivating" a claim means that someone has not used up all their benefits on an old cliam; this is usually because they found short term work, and now wants to use up the remaining weeks because they are unemployed again. For example, if someone qualifies for 25 weeks of benefits, but only collects 10 weeks of those benefits before finding a short term job, they can "reactivate" their claim to collect the remaining 15 weeks once the short term job is over (provided their 52 week benefit period hasn't ended).  

18. What is the difference between reactivating an EI claim, applying for EI as a new case (i.e. close the old file and open a new one) and under what circumstances should a worker do both?
The decision about whether to "reactivate" an old claim or start a new one is very, very, very complicated. Yes, there are some cases that are clear. For example, some workers will be able to open a new claim because they won't have worked enough hours since starting their old claim. For others, their year-long benefit period may have run out, so they cannot "reactivate" their old claim. However, for some workers, particularly workers who have worked a fair bit at a high paying job after filing their old claim, it might be better to open a new claim because they stand to get more money on their check. 

It may even be possible, in some cases, for a worker to "reactivate" their claim, use up their benefits, then file a new claim and get more. This is definitely one of the most complicated decisions a person has to make, so they should get legal advice.  

19. Is a casual worker eligible for EI, and if so, when should they apply?
If the work is casual in the sense that it is unpredictable and irregular and the person hiring the worker isn't really in that business, then the worker won't be covered for that work. Take child care as an example. If a person hires the same babysitter to babysit every now and then while they go out for dinner, that won't be covered because the work is unpredictable and the person hiring the babysitter isn't in the child care business. But suppose a day care centre hires someone to work 1 day a week every Monday. That would likely be covered because the work is predictable and the day care centre is in the business of child care. 

Another example would be yard work. If someone cuts the grass for their neighbour every few weeks, that probably won't be covered. But if a landscaping company hires someone to cut grass once a week, that could be covered (so long as the person is indeed an employee).

In terms of when to apply, it's the same. If a person thinks they have enough hours to qualify, they should apply when they have an interruption of earnings (i.e. no work or earnings for 7 days).

20. How can a casual worker accumulate his hours last year?
See above about casual workers. If their work is indeed covered by EI, it's the same as anyone else, just keep working. Every hour counts.   

21. If an employer does not deduct EI from the employee, how can an employee apply for EI benefits when the employee has not given contributions? (The employee is worried about making the employer angry as the employer might terminate the employee. The employer, of course, has not contributed.)
If the person is doing employment that is covered by EI and the employer is not making deductions, they can ask the Canada Revenue Agency to make a ruling that they are covered by EI. If the employer hasn't been making deductions, the worker should know that EI might try to collect the missed payments, but at least they will have protection if they lose their job. They should also know that if the employer wasn't deducting taxes, there could be problems there too.

Yes, there is the risk that the employer gets mad, that's why it's always best to try to work it out with the employer first. But if the employer gets mad and fires the person, they would have to claim compensation from the employer, which is a whole different topic.    

22. Can you explain a "reach back" for someone who was on EI a couple of years ago, but is now seeking employment?
EI allows people to "reach back" and ask for training benefits (also known as "employment benefits") if they've had an EI claim that ended less than 3 years ago. This only applies to training benefits, but basically, it means that the person might get some help from EI with training or finding a job even though their claim has ended.   

23. Can you elaborate on getting fired for misconduct? If a person gets fired for a performance or work error, does this client still qualify?
Every case is different, so it is impossible to say if a person will or won't get EI. The key point is that misconduct must be behaviour that is willful (or at least so reckless that it is essentially willful). Therefore, most innocent errors, accidents, or just not being very good at your job won't be considered misconduct.   

I'm self-employed. Can I be covered by EI?

24. For a self-employed newcomer, how can they "opt-in" with no tax history?
25. What benefits can a person "opt-in" for?

26. Can you get parental benefits as a self-employed person?

24. For a self-employed newcomer, how can they "opt in" with no tax history?
They can still opt in and qualify based on the work they do in the future even if they have no previous "tax history".

25. What benefits can a person "opt in" for?
For self-employed people, they can opt into "special benefits" (pregnancy, parental, compassionate care and medical). 

26. Can you get parental benefits as a self-employed person?
Yes, only if you voluntarily opt into the EI system and earn enough money to qualify.   

My employment was terminated. Now what?

27. Can you give some examples of "just cause"?
28. Elaborate of getting fired for misconduct. What if a client gets fired for a performance error? Or let go before the end of the probationary period?

29. What happens if a worker quits a job to accept another job then gets laid off from their new job?

30. If a person is laid off and the reason given by the employer is "shortage of work", what happens if the employer then hires someone new to replace that person who was laid off?

31. How does vacation pay at the end of work affect benefits?

27. For Can you give some examples of "just cause"?
"Just Cause" means the person had no reasonable alternative to quitting. Some situations that may lead to just cause include, harassment, unsafe working conditions, significant changes to the person's job or pay, illegal practices by the employer, etc. The important point is that quitting must be a last resort. The person needs to try all other reasonable options to fix the problem short of quitting. If you want to torture yourself, you can read Section 29(c) of the Employment Insurance Act, which is available online. It has a big list, but keep in mind that other factors not in this list can also be considered.

28. Elaborate on getting fired for misconduct. What if a client gets fired for a performance error? Or let go before the end of the probationary period?

See above. Likely not misconduct.  

29. What happens if a worker quits a job to accept another job then gets laid off from their new job?
If a person quits because they had reasonable assurance of another job, that will usually give the person just cause and they should be able to collect EI. Provided the person thought the job was going to be permanent when they took it, they should be able to collect EI if they are laid off. If the person knew the job was short term when they took it and quit a full-time, permanent job, they may be in trouble.   

30. If a person is laid off and the reason given by the employer is "shortage of work", what happens if the employer then hires someone new to replace that person who was laid off?
It wouldn't have any effect on their EI. They have a claim against their employer for firing them for no reason, but that's a different topic.

31. How does vacation pay at the end of work affect benefits?
Like severance pay, it is considered "earnings" and therefore may be deducted from the person's first few EI cheques. It is important for people who get severance pay or vacation pay after being laid off to apply right away, and not wait until it is used up.

How can I learn more about special benefits - like maternity, pregnancy or education?

32. Can a woman who didn't have enough hours for maternity EI apply for special benefits (i.e. another benefit)? Note: the doctor has told her that she is not in a position to continue working full time.
33. If a person need to quit his job for a reason at the same time he is qualified for parental benefits, can this person apply for special benefits first and later apply for regular benefits?

34. Can the 35 week parental benefits be claimed by both parents (not shared) if they had twins? I heard that some couple with twins in Ontario managed to collect parental benefits for each parent.

35. If a parent applies 9 months after the birth of their child, how many months is this parent eligible for?

36. Can someone who is on sickness benefits attend an educational institution? Especially if someone whose work is more physical and cannot work due to illness but is able to attend educational lectures?

37. Can you apply for two or more benefits one after the other?

38. If a woman does not have enough hours for maternity benefits, can she qualify for another benefit?

39. Can a person apply for regular benefits after receiving sickness benefits after 15 months? If so, how?

40. Say I have a client who is currently receiving WorkSafe BC benefits for 52 weeks - is he still eligible for EI benefits?

41. Can a person on special benefits attend a part time or full time educational program/course?

42. Is educational support available only for residents?

43. How do special benefits for self-employed contractors work? Qualification hours? How long do they have to be enrolled in the program before being able to collect? What about reporting?

44. Is there any extension for medical benefits if the person has yet to fully heal after 15 weeks?

45. How much notice should a woman give EI if she is planning on applying for maternity benefits? (What is the earliest someone can apply for maternity benefits?)

46. A live-in caregiver is pregnant. Is she able to get maternity benefits? How? What does she need to show to EI before her maternity leave? What does she need from her employer other than an ROE?

47. Can a person apply for parental benefits while receiving regular EI benefits?

48. How long after a child is born does a person have to apply for parental benefits?


32. Can a woman who didn't have enough hours for maternity EI apply for special benefits (i.e. another benefit)? Note: the doctor has told her that she is not in a position to continue working full time.
The simple answer is probably not. If the reason she is leaving work is because she is pregnant or sick, she will need 600 hours.

If she lives in a region of the province (for example, northern BC) that requires less than 600 hours to qualify for regular benefits and she had already established a claim for regular benefits before getting pregnant, she can still collect those benefits as long as she's available for work, or possibly even get sickness benefits if she has a complicated pregnancy.

33. If a person needs to quit his job for a reason at the same time he is qualified for parental benefits, can this person apply for special benefits first and later apply for regular benefits?
If he had just cause for quitting, then this is possible. 

34. Can the 35 week parental benefits be claimed by both parents (not shared) if they had twins? I heard that some couple with twins in Ontario managed to collect parental benefits for each parent.
Stay tuned! The Umpire just overturned the decision and said 'no, parents with twins cannot make 2 claims'. However, the parents have taken the case to the Federal Court of Appeal, so we'll have to see what happens.   

35. If a parent applies 9 months after the birth of their child, how many months is this parent eligible for?
Parental benefits usually have to be collected with 1 year of the child being born or adopted, so the parents would likely only get 3 months (12 weeks' worth of benefits).

If the person has been off work for 9 months, keep that in mind, because they are late applying, they may not have enough hours in the past year to qualify.

36. Can someone who is on sickness benefits attend an educational institution? Especially if someone whose work is more physical but due to illness cannot work but is able to attend educational lectures?
Probably not. To get sickness benefits, the person must show that they would have been available for work if it weren't for the illness. If they are in school (i.e. attending an educational institution) EI would likely say that they are not otherwise available for work.  

37. Can you apply for 2 or more benefits one after the other?
Yes.

38. If a woman does not have enough hours for maternity benefits, can she qualify for another benefit?
Probably not. There may be some very limited circumstance where a pregnant woman in an area with high unemployment gets laid off while pregnant and collects regular benefits because less than 600 hours are needed to qualify for regular benefits in her area. However, that is not currently the case in the lower mainland and after the baby is born, they would likely consider her unavailable to work anyways.  

39. Can a person apply for regular benefits after receiving sickness benefits after 15 months? If so, how?
I assume you mean 15 weeks! It depends. If the person has no job to go back to and has recovered so they are able to conduct a job search, it may be possible. If the person is still too sick to work, they will have a problem because they can't show that they are ready, willing and capable of working.    

40. Say I have a client who is currently receiving WorkSafe BC benefits for 52 weeks - is he still eligible for EI benefits?
I can’t answer questions about specific clients because it all depends on their circumstances.  In some cases, it is possible.  But if the client is currently getting wage loss benefits from WCB, that would probably be far greater than what he would get from EI, so after deductions the EI would likely be wiped out.   If the WCB wage loss benefits end and he has no job to go back to, but can look for other work, then he might be in a position to get something from EI.

41. Can a person on special benefits attend a part time or full time educational program/course?
For Pregnancy, Parental or Compassionate Care benefits, usually yes. I say usually because for parental or compassionate care, the person must show they are actually caring for the child or the person who is sick. For example, if a person is taking a full time university program and their child is with someone else in a completely different town, then that would be a problem.

For Medical benefits, usually no because the person must show they would have been available for work had it not been for the illness.  

42. Is educational support available only for residents?
I tried to get information on this and it's not entirely clear. In some places, it says services are limited to residents, but in other places it says services are available to anyone who can legally work in Canada. If you come across a non-resident who is denied training even though they can legally work in Canada, let me know - that would make for an interesting case.

43. How do special benefits for self-employed contractors work? Qualification hours? How long do they have to be enrolled in the program before being able to collect? What about reporting?
This is a massive question so I'm going to simply give you the link to the Service Canada website, which has all the information:

http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/ei/sew/index.shtml

In a nut shell, people qualify based on earnings, not hours. In other words, they have to earn a certain amount of money before they can qualify. I believe people must be enrolled for 1 year before they can qualify for hours.

44. Is there any extension for medical benefits if the person didn't get better after 15 weeks?
No. The max is 15 weeks.   

45. How much notice should a woman give EI if she is planning on applying for maternity benefits? (What is the earliest someone can apply for maternity benefits?)
The earliest someone can apply is 8 weeks before their due date. You don't need to give them notice. The application is the notice. The woman can fill in her last day of work on the application.

46. A live-in caregiver is pregnant. Is she able to get maternity benefits? How? What does she need to show to EI before her maternity leave? What does she need from her employer other than an ROE?
Yes, she can apply if she has 600 hours. It's the same as anyone else; submit an application and a record of employment. Nothing else should be needed.

47. Can a perosn apply for parental benefits while receiving regular EI benefits?
You can't collect two types of benefits at the same time, but you can collect two different types of benefits at a different time in the same benefit period. Collecting parental benefits and regular benefits in the same benefit period would be rare, but I suppose it's possible if a person is laid-off and then decides to stop looking for a job so that they can care for their newborn.  

48. How long after a child is born does a person have to apply for parental benefits?
An application is considered late if it is made more than 4 weeks after the person stopped working, which may hurt the person's chances of qualifying. Also, keep in mind that you only have 1 year from when the baby is born to collect all parental benefits, so if you wait, you may lose out.

Can I Work and Collect EI? 

49. How much money are you allowed to earn while collecting EI?
50. What if an employee receives other income aside from employment - such as rental income. Should this be reported? Will this affect the employee's EI benefits?

51. Say a person on regular EI finds a full time job, works three months, then loses their job because of a "shortage of work". Can they reactivate their claim?

52. Will people on parental benefits get an earning exemption?

49. How much money are you allowed to earn when you are collecting EI?
Currently, a person can earn up to 40% of their weekly benefit rate or $75, whichever is higher, without any deductions. For example, if someone gets $400 from EI, they could earn $160 (40% of $400) without any deductions. Any amount higher than that would be deducted dollar for dollar from their cheque.

Keep in mind that the earning exemption could drop to 25% or $50 in the summer of 2012.

50. What about if an employee receives other income aside from employment - such as rental income. Should this be reported? Will this affect the employee's EI benefits?
If the earnings don't arise out of employment, they are generally not deducted from your benefits. However, I believe EI expects people to report all money they receive even if it won't lead to a deduction. So it's always best to err on the side of caution and tell EI about it. 

Just because you tell EI something, doesn't mean they automatically deduct it from your cheque. You get to explain that you think it shouldn't be deducted. And if you report it, they can't come back later and accuse you of hiding things.  

51. Say a person on regular EI finds a full time job, works three months, then loses their job because of a "shortage of work". Can they reactivate their claim?
Yes, if they still have unused weeks and their "benefit period" has not ended. For most people, the benefit period will be 1 year and all weeks of benefits must be collected in this period. 

For exmaple, suppose someone qualifies for 30 weeks of benefits. They will have up to 1 year to collect those 30 weeks of benefits, otherwise, the uncollected weeks of benefits are gone. So if the person collects 20 weeks of those benefits, then finds a full time job, but is laid off after only 10 weeks, they can then reactivate their claim to collect the remaining 10 weeks of benefits because the 1 year benefit period has not ended.   

52. Will people on parental benefits get an earning exemption?
Yes; however, women on maternity benefits do not.


I'm on EI. What are my obligations? 

53. Can the client leave Canada while collecting parental benefits and leave the child in Canada?
54. Why does one need to inform Employment Insurance about leaving the country if they are collecting parental benefits?

55. What is the best time to inform Service Canada about taking a course? When you file your report, or before taking it?

56. If a client is taking a one-day course or an evening program, do they need to let Service Canada know?

57. If I get severance pay (I know that I will not get EI money for a few months), am I allowed to leave Canada?

58. If a manager of an office is laid off, do they have to accept a job that they feel they are overqualified for and take a pay cut? Such as a receptionist position, for example?

59. Does someone need to repay money received during the two week waiting period?

60. With regards to Maria's case, she should find a new employer, and that employer will apply for (a) LMO. Then after she can apply for a new permit. In this case, is she considered available and capable of working?

61. Can a person give EI notice that their job will be ending soon due to it being seasonal or temporary?

62. Can a person claim for EI if she goes on unpaid vacation for 1-2 months due to some family issues?

53. Can the client leave Canada while collecting parental benefits and leave the child in Canada?
The problem here wouldn't be that the person left Canada - the problem would be that parental benefits are payable to a person who is caring for a child. If they are not caring for the child, they can't get benefits. If it was a short trip (like a day trip to Seattle) it probably wouldn't be a problem. But if the person took a two week vacation without their child, EI would probably say the person was not actually caring for the child, and hence couldn't collect benefits.  

54. Why does one need to inform Employment Insurance about leaving the country if they are collecting parental benefits?
Because Service Canada says so:

http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/ei/faq/faq_special.shtml#country

I agree this seems illogical and I would like to think that there would be no consequences, but it's always better to avoid a problem if you can.

55. What is the best time to inform Service Canada about taking a course? When you file your report, or before taking it?
It's not just that you have to tell EI about the course, EI must approve it. It must, must, must be preapproved in advance if the person wants to collect EI while taking the course. Keep in mind that if the person really wants to take the course and EI won't approve it, they can simply not ask for benefits for the weeks they are taking the course. 

56. If a client is taking a one-day course or an evening program, do they need to let Service Canada know?
Yes. If it's a very small course that doesn't interfere with their job search, they can explain that and it shouldn't affect their benefits; but if they don't tell EI about the course, there is a risk that EI will penalize them because their bi-weekly reports require them to declare any courses they are taking.    

57. If I get severance pay (I know that I will not get EI money for a few months), am I allowed to leave Canada?
Yes, if you are not getting EI for a particular week, you can leave the country.

58. If a manager of an office is laid off, do they have to accept a job that they feel they are overqualified for and take a pay cut? Such as a receptionist position, for example?
Probably not right away. Generally, at the start of a claim, people are allowed to look in their usual field. However, if the job search drags on and the person can't find work for many weeks, EI might expect them to be less picky and broaden their search.

59. Does someone need to repay money received during the two week waiting period?
I'll assume you're talking about employment income during the waiting period. Yes, they do. EI can deduct earnings from the waiting period off the person's first three weeks of benefits.

60. With regards to Maria's case, she should find a new employer, and that employer will apply for (a) LMO. Then after she can apply for a new permit. In this case, is she considered available and capable of working?
There are, unfortunately, no definite answers when it comes to "availability", which is frustrating for clients. One person at EI might say she is available, another may not. I would definitely say her case would be much stronger.

61. Can a person give EI notice that their job will be ending soon due to it being seasonal or temporary?
There is no need to give notice. What they should do is apply for EI as soon as the job ends.   

62. Can a person claim for EI if she goes on unpaid vacation for 1-2 months due to some family issues?
Probably not unless the "family issues" would qualify her for compassionate care benefits (i.e. a family member who is likely to die in the next 6 months needs care). She could try to argue that family issues constitute "just cause" in that she had no reasonable alternative to taking the leave. It would depend on what the family issues were.


What happens if I break the rules and get caught?

63. Can you give some examples of situations where penalties and violations are imposed?
64. Are penalties applied to the refugee who does not understand English? A man got penalties worth $1000 for getting paid $400 when working for a short time at a fish plant. What can we do for this person?

65. What is an example of a violation that is upheld or overturned on appeal?

63. Can you give some examples of situations where penalties and violations are imposed?
Failing to declare earnings. Leaving the country without telling EI. Saying you were not taking courses when, in fact, you were. Conspiring with the employer to create a record of employment (ROE) that has false information.
The key point is that in all cases, a penalty can only be imposed if the person new the information they were giving was false.

64. Are penalties applied to the refugee who does not understand English? A man got penalties worth $1000 for getting paid $400 when working for a short time at a fish plant. What can we do for this person?
This is a question about a specific case, so I cannot say what will happen. Again, the key point is that a penalty can only be imposed if the person knew the information they were giving was false or misleading. If the information was not false or misleading, or the person did not know it was false or misleading, they can't be penalized. A person who wishes to challenge a penalty can appeal to the Board of Referees within 60 days of being informed of the decision.

Under the current policy, if it's the person's first penalty, the maximum penalty is usually 50% of the overpayment resulting from the misrepresentation. So if the person in this case failed to report $400 in earnings (and therefore was overpaid $400 in EI benefits they were not entitled to), the maximum penalty should only be $200.

65. What is an example of a violation that is upheld or overturned on appeal?
If the person did not know the information they gave was false or misleading (or it wasn't even false or misleading in the first place), the appeal will be allowed. The Board of Referees can also reduce the amount of a penalty if there are new mitigating factors (factors that favour leniency) that were not considered by the EI staff when they set the amount of the penalty. The Board of Referees can also overturn a violation if they think that the penalty is enough, and adding a violation is too harsh.


Does EI affect my other benefits?

66. A client is on WCB benefits which will be ending soon, although, they are still sick. Can the client apply for regular EI? Will WorkSafe BC payments be calculated as the client's income?
67. RE: Income Assistance. What happens if a person is waiting for the two week "deductible" period, but needs the money to survive? Does he have to pay back the money that he receives during those two weeks?

68. Does EI, in any way, affect one's ability to apply for subsidized housing?

69. Should a worker apply for sickness benefits regardless of if they are not sure if it is covered by WorkSafe BC?

66. A client is on WCB benefits which will be ending soon, although, they are still sick. Can the client apply for regular EI? Will WorkSafe BC payments be calculated as the client's income?
I'll answer the second question first. "Temporary Disability Benefits" (informally known as "wage loss"), are deducted. "Permanent Disability Benefits" (sometimes called "permanent disability pensions") are not.

As to the first questions, if a client is too sick to work, they will have trouble showing they are available for work and conducting a job search. EI sickness benefits may be an option, but if WCB is saying the person can go back to work, this might be a problem. If the client is well enough to work and submitted an EI application that qualified the client for EI benefits, they can collect regular benefits. In fact, their 1 year benefit period can be extended to allow them to collect their benefits.

As a side note, if the client is still recovering from their work injury, WCB benefits shouldn't "end". The client's main concern should be appealing the WCB decision. If the client's condition has become permanent, but has not healed completely, WCB will switch them from "temporary disability benefits" to a "permanent disability pension". The WCB benefits don't truly "end", although the permanent disability pension may well be muych smaller than what the person was getting before in wage loss benefits.

67. Re: Income Assistance. What happens if a person is waiting for the two week "deductible" period, but needs the money to survive? Does he have to pay back the money that he receives during those two weeks?
That's up to the Ministry. In theory, they can ask a client to repay all the hardship they receive. However, because no EI benefits were payable for those weeks, the client isn't "double dipping" so they may decide not to ask the person to repay hardship for this period.

68. Does EI, in any way, affect one's ability to apply for subsidized housing?
That would be up to the individual subsidized housing provider.    

69. Should a worker apply for sickness benefits regardless of if they are not sure if it is covered by WorkSafe BC?
Yes.


If I disagree about my EI, what can I do?

70. Any resources to help people who want to appeal? Such as writing the reasons?

70. Any resources to help people who want to appeal? Such as writing the reasons?
The information on the Service Canada website is helpful:
http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/ei/index.shtml

There is also a collection of EI decisions helpful to workers sorted by topic:
http://www.ae-ei.gc.ca/eng/board/favourable_jurisprudence/favourable_decisions_toc.shtml

There is a link to all EI decisions made by Umpires and the courts:
http://www.ae-ei.gc.ca/eng/library/searchxt.shtml

The Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles in the manual that EI uses to assess claims has some helpful information:
http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/ei/digest/table_of_contents.shtml

People can also read the relevant sections of the Employment Insurance Act and Regulations:
http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/ei/legislation/ei_act_entry_page.shtml

The Annotated Employment Insurance Act is also very helpful. It's only available in print (not online). The Courthouse Library at the Supreme Court (800 Smithe St., Vancouver) has a copy.


What else do I need to know?

71. Temporary foreign workers including live-in caregivers are not eligible for EI benefits once their work permits expire, even when they are on "implied" status. What can be done about this? Any advocacy to amend this policy?
72. Do refugees qualify for EI benefits?

73. With regards to jobs without a written contract, how do you determine whether it is full or part time?

74. How are insurable earnings and hours computed?

75. Can school staff - teachers and other workers - apply for EI during summer layoffs?

76. If a person quits their job and moves to another province to be closer to their family, can they apply for EI?

71. Temporary Foreign Workers including live-in caregivers are not eligible for EI benefits once their work permits expire, even when they are on "implied" status. What can be done about this? Any advocacy to amend this policy?
I don't write the rules, so your advocacy is as good as mine. And I wouldn't say concretely that TFW are not eligible when their permits expire. All the circumstances must be considered. Many people will be found eligible.

72. Do refugees qualify for EI benefits?
If they can legally work in Canada and accumulate enough hours, yes.

73. With regards to jobs without a written contract, how do you determine whether it is full or part time?
The EI Act says that a worker cannot get benefits for a week if they have worked a "full working week". In other words, it can actually change week to week. To determine whether someone has worked a "full working week", they compare the person to other people doing the same type of work. For example, if the person worked in a factory and other people in the same factory doing the same job generally work 40 hours a week, 40 hours a week will be considered a "full working week".

So in the situation you describe, if others doing that type of work have inconsistent hours, it's likely that the person would be considered to have worked a full week even if his hours dip below 40 in certain weeks. However, if others doing that same type of work generally work consistent 40 hour work weeks, he would likely to be considered to have worked a "full working week" (and be ineligible for benefits) when he gets close to 40 hours, and to have not worked a full working week (and be eligible for benefits) for weeks he does not.

74. How are insurable earnings and hours computed?
The employer should keep track and report the hours on the record of employment (ROE). An hour is an hour. It's never a bad idea for an employee to keep a log of their own hours in case there is a dispute.

75. Can school staff - teachers and other workers - apply for EI during summer layoff?
There is a seperate section of the EI Regulations that deals with teahcers. It's far too complicated to cover here, but generally no, they can't. As usual, there are exceptions.    

76. If a person quits their job and moves to another province to be closer to their family, can they apply for EI?
A person can always apply, the real question is whether their claim will be accepted, and that's impossible to say with certainty. The question is whether they had no reasonable alternative to quitting. If it's just a personal decision without anything more, I would tend to think their claim would be denied - but each case is unique so there is no way to conclusively predict the outcome.