Employment Insurance | Co-Authors: Jordan Reiner and Bram Lecker

Employment Insurance? Laid Off and Wondering What To Do?

Your boss has just fired you. Shell shocked, you come home not knowing what to do. If your employer provided you with a bunch of papers when you left, keep them safe. Catch your breath and give yourself a few days to gather your thoughts.

As soon as you are able, the first thing you must look into is Employment Insurance. This is a federal program that provides temporary financial assistance to eligible unemployed people.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for Employment Insurance, you must first answer a few questions:

First, have you paid Employment Insurance premiums? Some self employed workers do not pay them and therefore are not eligible to receive these benefits.  Most employees however, work in Insurable Employment where the premiums are remitted via payroll deductions.

Secondly, did you resign or did your employer let you go? You may not be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits if you resigned or if your employer fired you for cause, such as misconduct.  However, if they let you go without cause and for no fault of your own, then you may be eligible.

And this final part is a bit more complicated. How long have you been without work and pay? In order to receive Employment Insurance benefits, you must have been without work and pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks. In addition, you must have worked for a minimum number of insurable hours. This number ranges from 420-700 hours and is dependent upon the unemployment rate in your region. The hours are calculated from the start of your last Employment Insurance claim or the last 52 weeks, whichever is shorter.

You will find this information in your Record of Employment, a document that your employer should provide when they lay you off.

Important Deadlines

Employment Insurance- Laid Off and Wondering? - Service CanadaIf you are eligible for Employment Insurance benefits, you should apply for it within 30 days from your last day of work.  Your claim will be rejected or delayed if you miss this deadline. We encourage all our clients to do this, regardless of whether you received a severance package or not. If you did receive a severance package, however, note that your benefits will not commence until the severance period is over.

Sometimes, employers delay issuing a Record of Employment. You do not need this document to file and begin your application. You should not wait for it or let the deadline slide if you have not received it.

Benefit Amount

This calculation depends on your income. For most people, the basic rate is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings up to a maximum amount. In January 2017, the government set this maximum at $543.00 per week. Your premiums can continue for up to 45 weeks.

Your first payment will arrive within 28 days from when you made your application.

How and When to Apply

When you are ready to apply for Employment Insurance benefits, visit a Service Canada office in your area. You may also apply on line at EI Apply Online. The process is straightforward for most people.

Sometimes, applications for Employment Insurance do get rejected. This is when you should contact us. Our lawyers are not only qualified to advise you about the appeal process, we also have extensive experience in appearing before the Social Security Tribunal.


Read more blogs like this one in our series about Employment Insurance


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