Money & Career

5 misconceptions about employment insurance

Photography by ©iStockphoto.com/laflor Image by: Photography by ©iStockphoto.com/laflor Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

5 misconceptions about employment insurance

After 35 years of working for the same company, Elizabeth found herself receiving a severance package.

One month out of work became two, which then became six, and soon Elizabeth found herself dipping into her savings and applying for employment insurance (EI). But a few weeks after applying, she was told she wasn’t eligible for benefits: She had waited too long to apply.

Elizabeth took her case to her local Board of Referees, an independent board of three people who listen to claimants who have been denied benefits and are now appealing the decision.

Elizabeth never got her benefits. Here are the five most common misconceptions people have about EI that disqualify them from receiving their benefits.

1. "I can apply for EI anytime."

You must apply for benefits within 30 days of losing your employment. "Then, if you’re denied benefits, you have 30 days to appeal that decision," says Cathy Davis, the executive director for Labour Community Services of Peel in Mississauga, Ont. "Since EI payroll deductions are mandatory, you should pursue your right to collect benefits."

2. "I received a severance package, so I can’t apply for EI yet."

You still must apply for benefits within 30 days of losing your job. Your severance package will be evaluated by the Human Resources Skills and Development Commission (HRSDC), then, at the end of that allocation, you may be entitled to receive benefits if you’re still unemployed.

"Many people think that they cannot apply for EI until after their severance packages run out," says Nicole Vaillancourt, a lawyer in Collingwood, Ont. "You must apply within 30 days of your last day of work, regardless of the reason you’re no longer working and whether or not you’re receiving payments from your previous employer."

3. "I’ll receive benefits if I go back to school to update my skills."

Don’t assume that upgrading yourself to become more marketable will automatically mean you’re eligible for benefits. You must be approved by the HRSDC to take any training. If you choose to take courses on your own, do not expect to receive benefits.

4. "I’m not working, so I’m free to travel out of my area."
You must report any travelling you do, because it makes you unavailable to look for work and therefore ineligible to collect benefits during that time.

5. "I can’t apply for benefits until I get my Record of Employment (ROE)."

You can apply for benefits online or in person without your ROE. Your employer is responsible for providing your ROE to the HRSDC within a reasonable period of time (usually 15 days). If they fail to do so, the HRSDC will retrieve it for you.


This story was originally titled "To Your Benefit" in the October 2012 issue.

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5 misconceptions about employment insurance

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