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Employment Insurance

Introduction

Employment Insurance (EI) is a benefit paid by the federal government to workers who lose their employment (Regular Benefits), are sick (Sickness Benefits), have children (Maternity Benefits or Parental Benefits), or take time off work to care for very ill family (Compassionate Care Benefits).

  • Regular Benefits - You may qualify if you have lost your job. However, you may also qualify if you have an "interruption of earnings", for example, if you are laid-off
    1. You will qualify for EI if you worked a certain number of hours in a qualifying period, which is usually the past 12 months, but can be shorter
    2. You will not qualify for EI if you worked but quit without a good reason (such as harassment, dangerous conditions or major work changes) or were fired for misconduct (such as violent behaviour, lateness or disobeying reasonable orders)
    3. You have a right to appeal a decision to refuse to grant you regular benefits
  • Sickness Benefits - You may qualify if you are unable to work due to injury or sickness
    1. You must have worked 600 hours in the qualifying period
    2. You do not have to have been fired to get Sickness Benefits
    3. You may qualify for Sickness Benefits even if you lost your job because you quit or were fired for misconduct
    4. If you are expecting other forms of income assistance, like a private disability insurance plan, you can still apply for EI Sickness Benefits but you will have to let the government know. Usually you will have to agree to allow the EI to be repaid directly to the government as soon as the other income assistance is finally paid to you.
  • Maternity/Parental Benefits - You may qualify if you are pregnant, have recently given birth, are adopting a child or are caring for a newborn
    1. You need to have worked 600 hours in the qualifying period
    2. Your regular weekly earnings from work have to have decreased by more than 40%
    3. You may receive up to a combined maximum of 50 weeks of Maternity and Parental Benefits (maximum of 15 weeks Maternity, 35 weeks Parental)
    4. You may qualify for these benefits even if you lost your job because you quit or were fired for misconduct
  • Compassionate Care Benefits – You may qualify if you have to leave work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member (or close friend or neighbour who considers you a family member) who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death within 6 months
    • You need to have worked 600 hours in the qualifying period
    • Your regular weekly earnings from work have to have decreased by more than 40%
    • You may receive up to six weeks of Compassionate Care Benefits
  • You have a right to appeal within 30 days if you are denied any EI benefit

Learn more

  1. Decide if your legal problem relates to Employment Insurance.
  2. Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to learn more about Employment Insurance.
  3. Follow the Steps for instructions on how to apply for EI benefits and appeal a decision to deny you benefits.
  4. Review the Resources to find new and in-depth legal information about EI.
  5. See the Links for news and other helpful websites

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DisclaimerLast updated 07/30/2009