Area of Law: Employment Law
Answer Number: 609
Regular EI benefitsRegion: Ontario Answer Number: 609
If you are an employee who pays Employment Insurance (EI) premiums and you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to receive regular Employment Insurance benefits. Eligibility is based on two main factors. The first is the reason your job came to an end, and the second is how long you were working before the job ended.
Generally, you will be eligible for EI benefits unless you quit without a valid reason, or you were fired for doing something wrong.
What if you quit your job?
There are several valid reasons to quit your job and still be entitled to EI benefits. These include:
- if you face sexual harassment or other types of harassment;
- if you need to move with a spouse or dependent child to another part of the country;
- if you experience discrimination;
- if the working conditions are dangerous to your health or safety;
- if you have to care for a family member and cannot be employed at the same time;
- if you get hired for another job which then falls through;
- if your wages or salary are reduced suddenly;
- if you have to work excessive overtime or your employer refuses to pay you for overtime work; and
- if you have a difficult relationship with your supervisor, but you are not the main cause of the problem.
What if you are fired?
Being fired does not automatically make an individual eligible to receive EI benefits. There are several reasons for being fired that will normally make you ineligible for EI.
- if you did not follow your supervisor’s instructions;
- if you stole something;
- if you were persistently late for work after being warned; or
- if you got into a physical fight with someone during work.
If you are unsure about the reason you were fired, check your Record of Employment (ROE), which is a form that your employer must give you when your job ends. On the Record of Employment, the employer must state the reason you were fired.
Length of employment
Second, to qualify for EI benefits you must have worked for a certain period before you lost your job. The qualifying time is calculated in hours, but generally amounts to having worked between 420 and 700 insurable hours within the last 52 weeks. The exact amount of time required for you will usually depend on which area of Ontario you live in.
To qualify for sickness, maternity, parental, compassionate care, Family Caregiver for Children, and Family Caregiver for Adult benefits, you must accumulate 600 insurable hours.
As well, people who are in the workforce for the first time or who were out of the workforce for some time before their last job will face the same eligibility requirements as other claimants in the region where they live.
To find out how many hours you need to work to qualify for regular benefits, contact Employment and Social Development Canada.
What if you are self-employed?
Self-employed individuals also have the option to access EI special benefits, namely:
- compassionate care,
- family caregiver benefits for caregivers of critically ill or injured children, and
- family caregiver benefits for caregivers of critically ill or injured adults.
In order to qualify, a self-employed person must first register with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission. They must also meet several criteria, including: being a Canadian citizen or permanent resident; operating his or her own business, or own more than 40% of a corporation’s voting shares, and be ineligible for regular EI benefits.
A self-employed individual must wait at least 12 months from registering before qualifying for special benefits.
There are many rules established to determine if a person is entitled to collect Employment Insurance benefits. For more information and to obtain application forms, visit canada.ca.
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