Canadians who find themselves out of work may be able to get financial compensation from the Canadian federal government in the form of EI payments. This financial assistance is meant to help Canadians who are out of work still be able to keep up with life’s biggest bills.
But what about if you quit your job? Will you still be able to qualify for EI benefits?
What Is EI?
Employment insurance (EI) is a program overseen by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC) that offers temporary financial assistance to unemployed Canadians who are legally permitted to work in Canada.
Those who are eligible for EI will receive regular benefits paid out on a bi-weekly basis. In order to be eligible, EI recipients must have lost their job due to circumstances beyond their control and must be willing and able to return to work.
Here’s a list of documents you’ll need to get a job in Canada.
How Much Can You Get On EI?
The benefit amounts will vary from one person to the next, as there is no specific amount that would be applicable to everyone. Instead, eligible EI recipients will receive approximately 55% of their average weekly earnings. That said, there is a maximum weekly benefit of $595 per week.
The time frame within which EI benefits are paid out ranges from anywhere between 14 to 45 weeks. Seasonal workers may extend their benefits for an additional 5 weeks, for a maximum of 50 weeks. This number is based on the local unemployment rate and the number of insurable hours worked over the last 52 weeks, or since the last EI claim was filed, whichever of the two is less.
It should be noted that EI sickness benefits only offer up to 15 weeks in payments and are not suitable for anyone who is suffering from a debilitating disease or ailment that has left them unable to work for a long period of time.
If EI isn’t enough to cover your expenses, learn more about taking out a loan while on EI.
Who Is EI For?
In order to be eligible for EI, you must meet the following requirements:
- You’re a Canadian citizen or permanent resident legally allowed to work in Canada
- You have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- You have been in Canada for the benefit period applied for, with exceptions, such as attending a funeral outside the country
- Your job is considered insurable employment
- The reason for your job loss is through no fault of your own
- You have not been paid for at least 7 consecutive days over the last 52 weeks
- You worked between 420 to 700 hours – which is the required number of insurable hours – based on the unemployment rate in your area over the last 52 weeks or since your last EI claim, whichever of the two is less
- You’re ready, willing, and able to work
- You’re actively looking for a new job
EI is also available to those who are not working due to reasons other than being laid off, such as for maternity or paternity leave, illness, or caregiving responsibilities.
Who Isn’t Qualified For EI?
Not everyone may qualify for EI. If any of the following apply to your situation, you may be denied EI benefits:
- You voluntarily quit your job without good reason
- You were fired because of poor work conduct
- You’re involved in a labour dispute
Can You Get EI If You Quit?
You may only qualify for EI benefits if you have good reason to voluntarily leave your job. For instance, you may be eligible for EI for maternity, paternity, illness, and compassionate care reasons if you qualify.
You may also qualify if you can prove that you had “just cause” to quit. Any one of the following may be classified as just cause:
- Workplace harassment (sexual, age, etc)
- Racial discrimination
- Moving to another place of residence with a spouse/partner or dependent child
- Workplace is proven to be unsafe or unhealthy
- Immediate need to care for an immediate family member
- Promise of another job offer in the immediate future, only for the opportunity to fall through shortly after
- Excessive hours scheduled
- Employer refuses to pay overtime rate
- Employer is breaking the law
- Supervisor is creating a difficult work environment
- Significant changes to terms and conditions of the job that affects salary
- Significant change in work duties
Without just cause for leaving your job, you will not be eligible for regular EI benefits.
What Are Reasonable Alternatives Before Applying For EI?
Before you leave your job, it’s strongly recommended that you take every step possible to avoid becoming unemployed, otherwise you will not be considered to have just cause for quitting. And if so, you won’t be eligible to receive EI benefits.
For starters, try to rectify the situation with your employer or union representative to see if the problem at work can be fixed. For example, consider the following alternatives before quitting:
- Ask to have your work schedule changed
- Ask to be given different responsibilities or transferred to a new department
- Find a solution to child care
- Request a leave of absence until an ideal solution is found
You may also want to review your collective agreement or employment contract to find out if there’s a certain protocol that should be followed to handle a situation like yours.
If your labour rights are being violated, look into the laws regarding workplace health and safety or human rights. Be sure to take notes on the steps you’ve taken, and speak with an attorney if necessary. And if you ultimately decide to quit, look for another job first.
Ultimately, you’ll need to make sure you have just cause to quit in order to be eligible for EI benefits. If you are expecting benefits to be paid to you, you’ll need to verify whether or not just cause exists.
How to Qualify For EI If You Quit
When you apply for EI, you must explain why quitting was your only reasonable option. You might need to gather evidence to support your side of the story. The more evidence you can gather to support your reason to quit, the better your odds of getting approved for EI.
Evidence collected can include the following:
- Finding other people who can back up your claims
- Documents that show why you had felt the need to leave your job
- Notes regarding your attempt to rectify the issue and why it didn’t work
You may also consider writing to Service Canada to explain your situation. Be sure to include the evidence you gathered in your letter and keep a copy for your records. Hopefully, Service Canada will get in touch with your former employer to inquire about the facts you provided.
How To Apply For EI If You Quit Your Job
If you quit your job, make sure to apply for EI as soon as at least 7 days have passed since you last worked or were paid. You may find it more difficult to get approved for EI if you wait too long to apply, and even if you are approved, you may not get the full benefit amount that you may have been entitled to if you had applied earlier.
Service Canada may still approve your EI application if you can prove that you had good reason to wait to apply, but you must have good reason for delaying your application.
When you’re ready to apply, you may do so online, whether from home or at an internet kiosk at a Service Canada centre. Be sure to have the following information ready if you quit your job before applying for EI:
- The reason why you quit your job
- The steps you took to try to rectify the situation before leaving work
- Your attempts to find another job
If Service Canada believes that you had just cause to quit your job, you may be eligible for special benefits, including the following:
- Sickness benefits if you can’t work due to illness or injury
- Maternity benefits if you’re pregnant or recently had a baby
- Parental benefits if you’re a parent caring for your newborn baby or a child you just adopted
- Compassionate care benefits if you must care for a family member
- Family Caregiver Benefit for Children if you must care for your sick child
What should you do if you’re denied EI?
Can I get EI if I was fired?
Can I get EI for an authorized period of leave?
If I apply for EI after I quit, will my employer be contacted?
Just because you quit your job does not automatically disqualify you from receiving EI benefits. As long as your reason for quitting is justified and you can show that you took steps to rectify your situation, you may still be eligible for EI. Make sure you’ve done your homework before voluntarily leaving your job if you intend to collect EI benefits.
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