KerrLaw Logo JAMES D. L. KERR
TO:           Clients FROM:  James D.L. Kerr Lawyer
            17 – 151 Merton St.            
, Ont., M4S 1A7
            Tel 416 485-4254
            Fax 416 485-8836

            Certified Specialist Civil Litigation
DATE:      February 9, 2005

Employees opening a new EI claim will normally need between 420 and 700 insurable hours of employment in their qualifying period to qualify, depending on the unemployment rate in their region at the time of filing their claim for benefits.

Subject to limited exception, the “qualifying period” is the shorter of:

In some instances, a minimum of 910 hours in the qualifying period may be needed to qualify. For example:

Employees with an active EI claim that was opened in the last 52 weeks may be able to re-open their claim. There are advantages and disadvantages to re-opening an active claim and if the employee has enough hours to open a new claim the employee may even prefer to do that.  The employee should ask local EI office staff to advise the employee which is the most beneficial in the employee’s case. Each person’s case is different. 

Apply as soon as possible after the separation. If the employee waits more than 4 weeks the employee risks losing benefits. 

Apply even if the employee gets vacation pay or other separation payments.  When the employee receives separation payments from the employer, EI allocates them over a number of weeks. The employee’s EI benefits will be interrupted for that allocation period.  The government guidelines state:

“The claimant should file a claim immediately after the last day worked… despite the fact that no benefits are payable due to the allocation of separation earnings. The claim will be extended by up to one year due to the allocation of separation monies which prevented the immediate payment of benefits.”


The Waiting Period - When will EI benefits begin?  EI benefits start after a 2 week waiting period.


Amount - How much are the benefits? Subject to limited exception, the basic benefit rate is 55% of the employee’s average insured earnings up to a maximum amount of $413 per week.


If the employee retires with a pension but is still looking for a job (maybe one that’s closer to home or less stressful) apply for EI. They’ll deduct the employee’s pension “earnings” from the employee’s EI benefits which may leave the employee with little or no EI but the employee may still be eligible for EI Part 2 training supports. And if the employee does find a new job and is laid off later on, the employee’s pension won’t be deducted from future EI benefits if the employee has sufficient insured hours to open a new claim (the usual 420 to 700). This is called the “pension re-qualifier” rule. 

How long can you receive EI? When the employee files a claim for EI, the employee must serve a 2‑week waiting period without benefits, unless the employee reopens an existing claim. The employee can receive EI from 14 to 45 weeks, depending on the unemployment rate in the employee’s region and the employee’s accumulated insurable hours in the last 52 weeks or since the employee’s last claim, whichever is more recent.  

What are the EI rules for regular benefits?

If the employee wants to avoid disqualifications, disentitlements and penalties when the employee starts receiving EI benefits, the employee must:

1)   be willing and able to work

2)   be looking for employment

3)  accurately report income from all employment

4)   report absences out of country

5)   follow EI staff instructions, including a call to an interview

6)  report all work, even if the work will be paid later. 

Can you refuse a job while on EI?  While on EI, the employee can be disqualified for 7 to 12 weeks if, without a valid reason, the employee refuses a job offer or does not apply for a vacant position. Some valid reasons for refusing a job:

•     taking an EI-approved course

•     recently lost a specialized job and not had time to find a similar one

•     the workplace is too far from home

•     the workplace is unhealthy

These are not considered valid reasons:

•     the job is temporary or part-time

•     the job is on afternoon or night shift

•     the job is like the employee’s old one but the employee wants to change careers

•     the employee is over or under-qualified

•     taking a course not approved by EI

EI generally allows the employee a few months to search for similar employee but after that may press the employee to consider other jobs, full-time instead of part-time employee, etc.

 If the employee has been unfairly denied EI benefits, the employee has the right to appeal.



DISCLAIMER: The foregoing is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to the applicable law. General Client Memoranda and mailings from James D.L. Kerr ● Lawyer are intended to inform clients and acquaintances with respect to current issues that may be of interest to them. Memos are current to the date shown on the Memo. The law is constantly changing, however, and for that reason a Memo may not be completely accurate after it's stated date. Where circumstances warrant, the advice of a lawyer or other qualified professional should be obtained.

2005 James D.L. Kerr