How Do I Qualify for EI?
You may be entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits if you:
- Were employed in insurable employment;
• Lost your job through no fault of your own;
• Have been without work and without pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks;
• Have worked for the required number of insurable employment hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is shorter.
In most cases you must have worked a minimum of 420 to 700 insurable hours to qualify for regular EI benefits, depending on where you live in the province and the regional unemployment rate at the time you establish your claim.
In Newfoundland and Labrador we have two EI Regions, one for the St. John’s Metro area and then the other for the entire area outside the metro region.
Requirements are adjusted monthly at: http://srv129.services.gc.ca/eiregions/en/uirates.aspx
Example: A worker living in the St. John’s region and laid off between February 8 and March 7, may need at least 665 hours to qualify for regular EI benefits. A worker living in the Burin might need at least 420 hours. The qualifying hours are adjusted monthly.
You need 600 hours for special benefits (pregnancy, parental, sickness or compassionate care). If you were on EI in the last year, you may have weeks left and you might want to finish the old claim before starting a new one.
How Long Can I Receive EI?
The duration of your EI benefits depends on the regional unemployment rate for the month you establish your claim and the number of insurable hours you accumulated in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim, whichever is shorter. The current maximum is 45 benefit weeks in the highest unemployment regions, less elsewhere.
Example: A worker living in the St. John’s region and laid off between February 8 and March 7 may be eligible for 15 to 38 weeks depending on their insurable hours. A worker living in the Burin region is eligible could be eligible for 30 to 45 weeks depending on their insurable hours. The eligible weeks are adjusted monthly.
There is a one (1) week waiting period for which no benefits are paid (unless you’re re-opening a claim, attending apprenticeship classes, starting EI Work Sharing or your partner has already served the waiting period for your parental benefits). If you are on parental, sick or compassionate care leave while on regular EI, different duration rules apply.
How do I Apply for EI?
You have 4 weeks from the work separation date to apply or you risk losing benefits.
“Separation” means 7 consecutive days without pay and without work. File at a Service Canada office or at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit/apply….
How much do I receive?
The basic benefit rate is 55% of your average insured earnings. A new claim in 2023 pays a maximum of $650 weekly. Your EI payment is a taxable income. If a SUB (Supplementary Unemployment Benefit) has been negotiated at your workplace, it ‘tops up’ the basic building block of EI benefits to a specified level, giving you benefits from two sources.
How is my weekly benefit amount is calculated?
The amount of weekly benefits is calculated as follows:
- Calculate your total insurable earnings for the required number of best weeks (the weeks that you earned the most money, including insurable tips and commissions) based on the information you provide and/or your record(s) of employment;
- Determine the divisor (number of best weeks) that corresponds to your regional rate of unemployment (usually 14 outside of St. John’s);
- Divide your total insurable earnings for your best weeks by your required number of best weeks;
- Then multiply the result by 55% to obtain the amount of your weekly benefits.
What If I Receive Separation Payments?
Vacation pay and pay in lieu of notice are “allocated” to several weeks at the start of your claim, as if you were on salary continuance. EI benefits are not paid for those weeks.
Severance pay is also allocated but the timing depends on the situation. In some cases, severance can be held in trust while you hold recall rights to available work or have preferential transfer or hiring rights with your employer. This does not apply in all situations.
If you have an allocation period, EI extends your claim for a period equal to the allocation period. You’ll receive the EI benefits at the end of your claim if you’re still unemployed. No benefits can be paid after the 2-year anniversary of layoff.
If your severance pay is transferred to an RRSP there may be a tax savings but if you’re on EI, it’s still allocated as if it went directly into your wallet.
Even if you receive severance pay, always file for EI right after your layoff.
What if I Receive Other Earnings While on EI?
Working While on Claim reduces your benefits by 50% of your earnings starting with the first dollar earned. Specifically, for each dollar that you earn while in receipt of EI benefits, your weekly benefit payments will be reduced by 50 cents, up to the point where your earnings reach 90% of the earnings used to establish your benefit rate (roughly four and a half days of work). Above this cap, your benefits will be reduced dollar for dollar, until benefits are reduced to zero. You are not eligible to receive EI benefits if you work a full week, regardless of the amount you earn. However, this will not reduce the total number of weeks payable on your claim.
The Allowable Earnings rule also applies to employment pension benefit ‘earnings’ including CPP/QPP.
What are the Rules While on Regular EI Benefits?
To avoid disqualifications, disentitlements, and penalties you must:
- Be willing and able to work;
• Be looking for work;
• Report income from all employment (farming, self-employment, etc.);
• Report absences out of country;
• Report all work you do, even if you’ll be paid later;
• Follow EI staff instructions, including a call to an interview.
What if I am a seasonal worker?
Seasonal workers are entitled for up to 5 additional weeks of Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits in 1 of 13 targeted EI economic regions, including:
- Newfoundland / Labrador (excludes capital)
If you’re a seasonal worker from 1 of the economic regions listed above and you start an EI claim from September 26, 2021 to October 28, 2023, you may be eligible for up to 5 additional weeks of regular benefits if one of the 2 following situations applies to you:
- at the time your claim starts, you meet the seasonal worker criteria:
- in the previous 5 years, you had at least 3 EI claim for which you received regular or fishing benefits, and
- at least 2 of those EI claims started around the same time of year as your current claim
- at the time your claim starts, you don’t meet the seasonal worker criteria, but you did meet these criteria on an EI claim that started between August 5, 2018, and September 25, 2021
What happens after my claim is submitted?
After you apply for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, you’ll have to submit reports to Service Canada every 2 weeks for as long as you receive benefits. They help show your ongoing eligibility and make sure you get the benefits to which you’re entitled.
As an Employment Insurance (EI) claimant, you have always been responsible for conducting reasonable job searches, documenting your job search activities and accepting any offer of suitable employment while receiving EI regular and fishing benefits. You need to be looking for work even while on recall, though you will not have to take employment that is not suitable.
You’ll need your social insurance number and the 4-digit access code we mailed you to submit your reports online or by phone. Once you submit your report, you’ll get the date to submit your next one. You have 3 weeks from that date to complete the next report.
When will my payments start?
You’ll receive your first payment about 28 days after you apply if you’re eligible and have provided all required information. If you’re not eligible, we’ll notify you of the decision made about your application.
Before you start receiving benefits, there is 1 week for which you won’t be paid. This is called the waiting period. It’s like the deductible that you pay for other types of insurance.
What if my EI claim is denied?
You can request a reconsideration of the decision. You must submit a request for reconsideration within 30 days after the decision was communicated to you. You can contact Service Canada to help you with your reconsideration request.