Can I Get EI if I Quit My Job? Canada’s Employment Insurance Questions and Answers

A picture to denote a person wanting to quit their job and asking the question can I get EI if I quit my job?

Can I get EI if I quit my job? This is a very important question and something that a lot of people do not understand. Many people think that they have a better chance to collect Employment Insurance if they quit their job instead of being fired. This is false. Why is this so and can I collect EI if I quit?

Can I Get EI if I Quit My Job? Possible in A Few Cases but Difficult

The EI Digest defines voluntary leave or quit as ” the claimant and not the employer took the initiative in terminating the employer-employee relationship.” it goes on to say that “a claimant is disqualified from receiving any benefits if the claimant lost any employment because of their misconduct or voluntarily left any employment without just cause.”

And that is the key. A person who quits their job must have just cause or you can say a valid reason for doing so. As a result, the onus is on the claimant to prove that they had just cause in quitting their job. This is quite different from someone being fired where the employer has to prove misconduct.

What is Just Cause?

Section 29(c) of the EI Act defines it as below:

Just cause for voluntarily leaving an employment or taking leave from an employment exists if the claimant had no reasonable alternative to leaving or taking leave, having regard to all the circumstances, including any of the following:

  1. sexual or other harassment;
  2. obligation to accompany a spouse, common-law partner or dependent child to another residence;
  3. discrimination on a prohibited ground of discrimination within the meaning of the Canadian Human Rights Act;
  4. working conditions that constitute a danger to health or safety;
  5. obligation to care for a child or a member of the immediate family;
  6. reasonable assurance of another employment in the immediate future;
  7. significant modification of terms and conditions respecting wages or salary;
  8. excessive overtime work or refusal to pay for overtime work;
  9. significant changes in work duties;
  10. antagonism with a supervisor if the claimant is not primarily responsible for the antagonism;
  11. practices of an employer that are contrary to law;
  12. discrimination with regard to employment because of membership in an association, organization or union of workers;
  13. undue pressure by an employer on the claimant to leave their employment, and;
  14. any other reasonable circumstances that are prescribed.

The other reasonable circumstances referred to in EIA 29(c)(xiv) are those which are prescribed by regulation Footnote1

What does the above mean? In layman’s terms, it means that you had to quit your job as you had no other choice based on the reasons mentioned in the EI Act. Also, it is not enough to say that you had a reason to quit, but you have to prove it and show that you tried to remedy the situation or look for an alternative etc. If a Benefits Officer looks at your application and sees that you had just cause, then you can be approve for EI.

Conclusion

It is possible to collect EI if you quit your job. However, you must prove that you had “just cause” in leaving your job. As seen above, this is not a casual reason but a last resort. Because of that, you must think long and hard if you are thinking on quitting your job. Especially, if you are wanting to collect EI while you are not working. Before making at decision, look at your situation and do your research as knowledge is power.

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Denied EI Benefits – What Are My Options? Can I appeal an EI decision?

A picture of person stressed to denote a person who was denied EI benefits and doesn't know what to do next.

If you ever been denied EI benefits, it is a horrible feeling. You feel crushed and hopeless as you think that there are now no other options. Now the reality is that Employment Insurance has criteria that one needs to meet to qualify for EI such as having enough insurable hours of employment and so on.

However, things can get a bit murky when it comes to the issue of quitting your job or being fired from it. These issues are adjudicated based on the EI Act and EI digest and then a decision is made to allow your reason of separation or not. It’s in these areas where many people get frustrated as they might feel that they have a valid reason for leaving their job. However, they are denied EI benefits. Is there any other options if you are denied?

Denied EI Benefits – You Can Appeal the Decision

If you are denied EI benefits, you can write a letter back to appeal the decision. You have 30 days after the date of your EI notice of decision letter to do so. In the letter you need to clearly explain why the decision was wrong and provide as much details as possible on why you should have received EI. Sometimes this is where many people get denied in the first place, as they do not fully explain the circumstances that led to them to be fired or them to quit. In the appeal letter, you need to give all these details.

When you send your letter back, it goes to the appeals department where benefit officers will look at your EI claim again and see if there were things missed when the original decision was made. If they look at it and deem that you should have received EI benefits, the decision will be reversed and they will set up your EI claim and inform you of the decision. However, what happens if they uphold original decision to deny you EI?

Board of Referees Hearing

If the appeals department upholds original decision, then your appeal will go to the Board of Referees for a hearing. A date for the hearing will be set and your EI claim will be adjudicated by a three person panel. You can show up for the hearing and present your information to them if you like. A representative from EI Benefits can also come and present evidence also but most of the time, this doesn’t happen as the Board of Referees will have the EI file that the officer made with the details on why they made their decision. They will take this information and any additional information you present and come to a decision to either allow your EI claim or not. What happens if my EI is still denied, are there any other options?

Denied EI Benefits – Appeal to An Umpire

You can appeal the Board of Referees’ decision and it will go to a person called an Umpire. This person will look at all the EI information that is collected at that point and will make a decision base on the EI Act and EI digest above and on previous legal precedents. If the Umpire feels that the person does qualify for EI benefits then the claim is set up. One point of note is that Employment Insurance can also appeal a Board of Referees decision to the Umpire if they feel that the person should not be collecting EI benefits. So what happens if the Umpire still denies my EI claim. Is there any other options?

Last Options – Federal Court and Supreme Court

If you still feel that you should get EI benefits at this point, you can take the case to Federal Court. However, this might take some time (perhaps years) for your case to be heard. At this point, if the Federal Court rules against you, the last option is taking the case to the Supreme Court which will take even more time and there is no guarantees they would even hear your case. At this point, all options would have been exhausted.

Conclusion

There are options to appeal an EI decision that denies you of collecting EI benefits. However, the longer you go in the process, they longer it takes and the road is more and more difficult. So in the end, it comes down to how far you want to take things and do you really feel that the decision made to deny you EI benefits was an injustice that must be rectified no matter what? That’s a decision that only you can make.

Can I Apply For EI if I Get Fired?

A picture to denote someone applying for EI benefits to highlight the question of can I apply for EI benefits if I get fired.

Can I apply for EI if I get fired from my job? There has been a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to this question. Many people think that if they do get fired from their job that they cannot get EI benefits. Some employers even pressure their employees to quit stating that it is better that you quit then get fired. As a result many people assume that they cannot get EI benefits and do not apply. But is this true?

Can I Apply for EI if I Get Fired? Of Course You Can

Anybody can apply for EI regardless of the reason you stopped working. The key is that you are no longer working or their is work stoppage of at least seven days. If you have that, then you can apply. But the real issue is that can someone get approved for EI benefits if they have been fired?

Can I Collect EI Benefits if I Have Been Fired? Sometimes Yes

A little known fact that many people do not know is that if the employer fires you and puts dismissal on your record of employment, the onus is on the employer to prove misconduct by the Employer. What is misconduct? The Employment Insurance Digest gives a detailed explanation of this term. However, in simple terms it is unlawful conduct. And this conduct by the employee was willful and of evil intent. So you can see, misconduct is serious or even unlawful actions carried out by the employee that result in his/her dismissal.

For example, if the employer put dismissal on an employee’s record of employment and stated the reason as theft. The EI Benefits Officer will call the employer and ask questions such as “what proof do you have that the employee stole? Do you have evidence such as a video? Did you file a police report?” And so on. As mentioned it is up to the employer to prove misconduct, not the claimant filing for EI.

This is because if the evidence between the employer and claimant is equal, the benefit of the doubt will go to the claimant. Here’s an excerpt from The Employment Insurance Digest which says: “The EI Act (ss49(2)) is very clear on the action to be taken if there is an issue of disqualification and the evidence presented by the claimant and by the employer are equally balanced: the benefit of the doubt is given to the claimant.”

As a result, a person can be approved for EI benefits if though they were fired because the employer has to prove that misconduct was involved.

Conclusion

If you have been fired or dismissed from your job, you definitely should apply for EI benefits. The reason is that the employer has to prove that their was misconduct to warrant a dismissal. If it comes done to a he said she said scenario, the benefit of the doubt will go to the person applying for benefits. So if you are ever in a situation where your employer says if you have the choice to quit or be fired. If you haven’t done anything unlawful, then it is better to take option 2, especially if you need to apply for EI.