Infosheet No. 5
Teachers and Employment Insurance
This Infosheet provides an overview of the main issues in Employment Insurance (EI) as they may apply to teachers. EI is a benefit available to individuals who, for various reasons, find themselves without employment, or unable to work. It is important to understand the basic benefit structure and how the relevant rules and regulations may apply to your own individual circumstances.
Teachers and their employers contribute to EI at a percentage rate of monthly salary up to a maximum contribution level which is set each year. EI premiums are tax deductible.
In order to be entitled to regular EI benefits, a teacher must have accumulated a minimum of 420 to 700 hours of insurable employment in the past year. The actual number of insurable hours required will depend on the regional rate of unemployment in each geographic area. A minimum of 600 hours within the last year, or since the last EI claim, is required to qualify for sickness, maternity, parental, compassionate care or family caregiver benefits. Every hour of insurable employment, or part thereof, with any employer, will count toward eligibility for benefits. For teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador, a day of teaching is reported as eight hours of employment for EI purposes only. A part of a day is pro-rated based on a fraction of eight. For example, a 3-hour morning session out of the 5-hour instructional day counts as 4.8 hours (60 percent of 8) for EI purposes.
As of January 1, 2022, the maximum EI benefit level is 55 percent of average insured earnings up to a yearly maximum of $60,300, or $638 per week. Individuals who work while in receipt of EI benefits are able to keep 50 cents of their EI benefits for every dollar earned, up to 90 percent of their weekly insurable earnings used to calculate their EI benefit amount. For earnings above this threshold, deductions are made dollar for dollar from EI benefits. You can receive EI from 14 weeks up to a maximum of 45 weeks, depending on the unemployment rate in your region at the time of filing your claim and the amount of insurable hours you have accumulated in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim, whichever is shorter.
In determining what constitutes suitable employment in a job search while in receipt of Employment Insurance benefits, the program considers several factors including:
- Personal circumstances
- Working conditions/wages
- Commuting time
- Hours of work
- Reasonable job search
As of January 2017, an individual who applies for EI benefits normally must serve a one-week unpaid waiting period. Those who leave work voluntarily or have been suspended/terminated from their employment may be disqualified completely. Each case is adjudicated on its own merits. The waiting period may be waived in claims for sickness benefits where a claimant was paid sick leave immediately before their cessation of earnings.
Sickness and Disability
EI sickness benefits are available to persons who have the required hours of insurable employment and are unable to work because of illness/disability. Sickness benefits are available for a maximum of 15 weeks while school is in session.
(Note: As detailed in the 2022 budget, the government confirmed that they will be extending the EI Sickness Benefit from 15 to 26 weeks. This means an approved absence could be extended up to a full 26 weeks under the revised program. This proposed change will ONLY come into effect once it has been passed by Parliament in the fall of 2022.)
EI maternity benefits are offered to biological mothers, including surrogate mothers, who cannot work because they are pregnant or have recently given birth. A maximum of 15 weeks of EI maternity benefits is available. Benefits can be paid as early as 12 weeks before the expected date of birth and can end as late as 17 weeks after the expected or actual date of birth, whichever is later. The weekly benefit rate is 55 percent of the claimant’s average weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum amount.
EI parental benefits are offered to parents who are caring for a newborn or newly adopted child or children.
There are two options available for receiving parental benefits: standard or extended.
- Standard parental benefits can be paid for a maximum of 35 weeks and must be claimed within a 52-week period (12 months) after the week the child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption. The weekly benefit rate is 55 percent of the claimant’s average weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum amount. Two parents can share 40 weeks of standard parental benefits. These additional 5 weeks are only available when benefits are shared, with a maximum of 35 weeks of parental benefits paid to either parent.
- Extended parental benefits can be paid for a maximum of 61 weeks and must be claimed within a 78-week period (18 months) after the week the child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption. The benefit rate is 33 percent of the claimant’s average weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum amount. Two parents can share 69 weeks of extended parental benefits. These additional 8 weeks are only available when benefits are shared, with a maximum of 61 weeks of extended parental benefits paid to either parent.
Note: the additional weeks of benefits for those sharing EI parental or extended parental benefits with another parent are available to those whose child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption on or after March 17, 2019.
These benefits are available to family or other caregivers who have to be away from work to provide care or support to a critically ill or injured person or someone needing end-of-life care. There are three types of caregiving benefits.
- The Family Caregiver Benefit for Children
Provides up to 35 weeks of benefits to caregivers providing care or support to a critically ill or injured child under the age of 18.
- The Family Caregiver Benefit for Adults
Provides up to 15 weeks of benefits to caregivers providing care or support to a critically ill or injured adult 18 years of age or older.
- Compassionate Care Benefits
Provides up to 26 weeks of benefits to caregivers providing care or support to a person who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks (6 months).
Claiming a Caregiving Benefit
Benefits can be shared between caregivers, either at the same time or separately, to a combined maximum of 15, 26 or 35 weeks during the 52-week window, depending on the type of benefit received.
To be eligible to establish a claim for this benefit, the caregiver must submit a medical certificate signed by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner attesting that the person requires their care or support and is critically ill or injured (for the Family Caregiver Benefit) or has a serious medical condition and needs end-of-life care (for the Compassionate Care Benefit).
The caregiver must also be able to show that:
- your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least 1 week because you need to take time away from work to provide care or support to the person
- you accumulated enough insured hours of work in the 52 weeks before the start of your claim, or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter
- you’re a family member of the person who is critically ill or injured or needing end-of-life care, or you’re considered to be like a family member (completion of an attestation form by the person needing care or support or by their legal representative);
- (Information reproduced from publications located at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/caregiving.html; and https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/caregiving/eligibility.html)
Regular pension income is considered earnings for EI purposes. Therefore, most retired teachers will not be eligible for EI once they are in receipt of a pension. However, retired teachers who take up other employment, including substitute teaching, may become eligible for EI benefits based on that new employment once the qualifying conditions have been met. Disability pension income is not considered earnings for EI purposes, and teachers in receipt of same may qualify for either the 15 weeks of sickness benefits or regular EI benefits, depending on their level of disability.
Benefits During Summer and School Breaks
EI refers to the time a teacher is not working each year (the summer months of July and August, Christmas and Easter breaks), as the “non-teaching periods”, and teachers are generally disqualified from receiving regular EI benefits during these periods. There are three exceptions to this rule which could allow regular EI benefits to be paid to:
- a teacher whose teaching contract ends on or before the beginning of the non-teaching period and who is not contracted to teach when school starts up after this period;
- a teacher who was employed as a casual or substitute teacher only; or
- a teacher who qualifies for EI based on employment in an occupation other than teaching.
EI sickness benefits are not payable during the non-teaching periods to teachers on continuing contract, unless the contract ends. Maternity/parental or caregiving benefits may be payable.
Teachers on Leave
Teachers on leave of absence may be eligible for EI benefits if they meet the eligibility requirements and can show “just cause” for voluntarily leaving their employment.
To apply for EI benefits, teachers may fill out an application form at their Service Canada office or apply online at: https://srv270.hrdcdrhc.gc.ca/AW/introduction?GoCTemplateCulture=en-CA
Reconsideration and Appeals
If a teacher’s application for EI benefits is rejected, they can request a reconsideration of that decision. If a teacher disagrees with a reconsideration decision, they can appeal that decision. Contact the NLTA for advice before filing a request for reconsideration or appealing. The NLTA will represent you at the appeal if the case is valid in the opinion of the Association.
Generally, a request for reconsideration must be submitted to Service Canada within 30 days from the date the decision was communicated to the teacher. A teacher can submit an appeal of a reconsideration decision within 30 days of receiving their reconsideration decision.
This Infosheet is one of a series which are updated periodically and which provide information of a general nature only. Documents such as Collective Agreements, legislation and policies referenced in Infosheets will govern the specific rights and benefits of members. For further information, please contact: Programs and Services, NLTA Office, 3 Kenmount Road, St. John’s, NL A1B 1W1. Telephone: 726-3223 or 1-800-563-3599 (toll free) • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.nlta.ca