On the Radar from CLEO
CLEO On The Radar
October 2022
Back to pre-pandemic rules for Employment Insurance
The Government of Canada made many temporary changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The last of these changes ended on September 24, 2022.
Hours needed to qualify
To get EI during the pandemic, workers needed at least 420 hours of insurable earnings during their qualifying period. The qualifying period is usually the 52 weeks (one year) before applying.
Starting September 25, the pre-pandemic rules about the number of hours apply again.
For regular benefits, this means that workers must have worked at least 420 to 700 hours. How many hours they need depends on the unemployment rate in their region. The higher the unemployment rate, the lower the number of hours workers need to qualify.
For sickness benefits, caregiving benefits, and maternity and parental benefits, workers must have worked at least 600 hours.
Reasons for leaving work
During the pandemic, the government made it easier for workers to get 420 hours of insurable earnings. They did this by expanding the number of past jobs workers could use to earn insurable hours during their qualifying period.
If the reason they left their most recent job qualified them for EI, a worker could use hours they earned at any jobs in their qualifying period. It did not matter why they lost those jobs. They could have left for reasons that normally don't qualify a person for EI, such as quitting without cause or being fired for misconduct.
This ended as of September 25. Now it does matter why a worker left past jobs during the qualifying period. Workers can use hours from a past job only if the reason they left that job would have qualified them for EI.
Getting paid after being fired
During the pandemic, workers could get EI and separation payments at the same time.
Starting on September 25, workers once again have to wait to get EI until after they use up any weeks of separation payments they get from an employer. This is pay they get because they permanently lost their job. For example, a worker has to wait if they get severance pay, termination pay, or vacation pay.
It's still a good idea for workers to apply for EI as soon as they lose their job. Even if this means waiting to get their first payment.
Minimum earnings for self-employed workers
Self-employed workers can register for EI special benefits. "Special benefits" refers to sickness benefits, caregiving benefits, and maternity and parental benefits. These workers must earn a minimum amount of self-employment income in a year to qualify for the self-employed program.
During the pandemic, this amount was reduced to $5,289 in the year before they applied for EI.
If a worker applies for EI between September 25 and December 31, 2022, they'll need to have $8,092 of self-employed earnings in 2021.
Steps to Justice logo
CLEO logo
Related resources
Copyright © 2022 CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario).
Connect with CLEO / Contacter le CLEO:
Facebook icon
Twitter icon
Instagram icon
Subscribe icon

CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario)
180 Dundas Street West, Suite 506
Toronto, ON M5G 1Z8