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BCTF Advantage

Revised July, 2018

Employment Insurance and BCTF Members

Employment—Maternity—Parental—Sickness—Compassionate Care—Family Care—Retirement

The Employment Insurance Act and Regulations are long and complex. The following is a brief summary only. If you think you have any claim for benefits, you should apply online or at the nearest Service Canada office, contact your local association, or contact the BCTF (Income Security Department).

The Employment Insurance Act and Regulations govern in the event of any variation between this summary and the Act.


ELIGIBILITY

Unemployment

  • Interruption of earnings, i.e., no work or pay for seven or more consecutive days.
  • 420 to 700 hours of insurable employment in the qualifying period depending upon regional rate of unemployment. See the Qualifying Period section, below, for further details.
  • Unemployment because of lay-off, lack of work for TTOCs (e.g. Spring or Summer Break).
  • Available for and actively seeking work.
  • Severance pay, vacation pay, and retirement incentives will be divided by your regular weekly earnings and allocated forward from the time you leave employment, thereby delaying the start of your claim.

Notes: 

  • Teachers who quit, are on leave of absence, are dismissed by reason of misconduct or retire, will likely be disqualified from El benefits.
  • Teachers on continuing contract are not eligible for regular EI benefits during July and August.
  • Teachers whose contracts terminate on June 30, including those on temporary contracts, can file a claim effective July 1 for regular El benefits during the summer. The acceptance of a new contract for the next school year does affect eligibility for regular El benefits—El will not pay benefits after you accept a new contract.
  • Self-funded leave periods are not periods of unemployment.
  • Apply for EI benefits as soon as you stop working. You can apply for benefits even if you have not yet received your Record of Employment (ROE).
  • If you delay filing your claim for benefits for more than four weeks after your last day of work, you may lose benefits.

Maternity/Parental/Sickness

  • A reduction of more than 40% in regular weekly earnings.
  • 600 hours of insurable employment in the qualifying period. See the Qualifying Period section, below, for further details.
  • For pregnancy benefits, you must be a biological mother who is pregnant or who has recently given birth. Surrogate mothers are eligible, as are those who experience late-term miscarriages or stillbirth.
  • For parental benefits, you must be a parent caring for a newborn or newly adopted child or children.
  • For sickness benefits, you must be unable to work because of sickness, injury or quarantine. You will need to obtain a medical certificate signed by your doctor or approved medical practitioner.

Notes:

  • If the interruption of earnings was due to unemployment and you became ill after being unemployed, you may qualify for sickness benefits with less than 600 hours of insurable employment.
  • Either parent may apply for parental benefits.

Compassionate Care

  • A reduction of more than 40% of regular weekly earnings.
  • 600 hours of insurable employment in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim (the qualifying period).
  • Must apply for benefits.
  • A medical certificate must be provided as proof that the ill family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks (6 months) and requires the care or support of one or more family members.
  • Can be shared with other family members who meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Care or support means:
    • providing psychological or emotional support; or
    • arranging for care by a third party care provider; or
    • directly providing or participating in the care.
     
  • Benefits paid to care or support your family member or the family member of your spouse or common-law partner, or someone who considers you a family member, such as a close friend or neighbour.  

Family Caregiver Benefit for Adults

  • A reduction of more than 40% in regular weekly earnings.
  • 600 hours of insurable employment in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim (the qualifying period).
  • Must apply for benefits.
  • Can be shared by other caregivers who meet the eligibility criteria.
  • You must be a family member of the critically ill or injured adult, or they consider you to be like a family member.
  • The person was at least 18 years old when a medical doctor or nurse practitioner certified that they were critically ill or injured.
  • Anyone 18 or over whose baseline state of health has changed significantly and whose life is at risk as a result of illness or injury and needing the care or support of at least one caregiver.

Family Caregiver Benefit for Children

  • A reduction of more than 40% in regular earnings.
  • 600 hours or insurable employment in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim (the qualifying period).
  • Must apply for benefits.
  • Can be shared by other caregivers who meet the eligibility criteria.
  • A family member includes immediate family as well as other relatives and individuals considered to be like family, whether or not related by marriage, common-law partnership, or any legal parent-child relationship.
  • Care is defined as participating in the care of a critically ill or injured child, whereas support is defined as providing psychological or emotional support to a critically ill or injured child.
  • Anyone under 18 whose baseline state of health has changed significantly and whose life is at risk as a a result of illness or injury and needing the care or support of at least one caregiver.

Note: 

  • If the person is already living with a chronic medical condition, family caregivers are not eligible for the Benefit unless the person's health changes significantly because of a new and acute life-threatening event.

QUALIFYING PERIOD

  • The shorter of the period of 52 weeks immediately proceeding a claim for benefits or the period between beginning of proceeding claim and start of new claim.
  • Period can be extended by up to a further 52 weeks if not in insurable employment because of illness, quarantine or pregnancy, or in receipt of Workers' Compensation Board payments, confinement in jail or attendance at HRDC sponsored course of instruction, i.e., the qualifying period cannot exceed 104 weeks.
  • If in receipt of severance pay or retirement incentives, the qualifying period will be extended by the same number of weeks represented by the amount of the severance or incentive, to a maximum of 52 weeks; i.e., the qualifying period cannot exceed 104 weeks.

INSURABLE EMPLOYMENT

  • Employment with an employer.
  • An hourly system as of January 1, 1997; every hour worked is insurable. For teachers on contract, there is an agreement between the BCTF and BCPSEA that each full time teacher earns 9.1 hours per day or 45.5 hours per week of insurable earnings. Part-time teachers accrue service prorated by the amount of their assignment. Teachers on call also accrue 9.1 hours for each full day worked or a proportional amount for part days.
  • The period of time over which severance pay, vacation pay and retirement incentives is allocated as earnings for the purpose of determining when your claim may start (see section on Eligibility) is not insurable employment.

INSURABLE EARNINGS

  • As of January 1, 2018, the maximum insurable earnings amount is $51,700. As the basic rate for calculating EI benefits is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings up to this maximum, this means that you can receive a maximum amount of $547 per week.


WAITING PERIOD

  • Before you start receiving EI benefits, there is one week for which you will not be paid. The waiting period is like the deductible that you must pay for other types of insurance.

Notes: 

  • If you received EI benefits in the last 52 weeks and you have reactivated your claim having already served the one-week waiting period, you do not need to serve an additional waiting period on the existing claim.
  • For sickness benefits the waiting period is waived if you receive any paid sick leave after your last day worked or the waiting period can be served during the last week you receive group insurance payments.

AMOUNT OF BENEFIT

  • Fifty-five per cent of average gross insurable earnings of the 14-22 best weeks (if applicable) of insurable employment ($547 per week maximum or if you have fewer than 26 weeks of insurable employment, the average over the El divisor (usually greater than the # of weeks of insurable employment).
  • If you earn less than the maximum earnings in any of these weeks, this lesser amount will be used in the average.

Notes: 

  • Maximum insurable earnings and benefits may be adjusted annually.
  • EI benefits are taxable, for every type of benefit received. An insurable week is 45.5 hours of insurable employment.

DURATION OF BENEFIT

Unemployment

  • From 14 weeks up to a maximum of 45 weeks depending upon weeks of insurable employment in the qualifying period and regional rate of unemployment.
  • A benefit period which is interrupted by receipt of separation or retirement payments may be extended by the same number of weeks represented by these payments to a maximum of 52 weeks.
  • You may ask Service Canada, during busy TOC periods, to suspend your EI claim and then re-activate it for the slow work periods. While your claim is suspended you will be able to “work off claim” and not have to report your work and earnings bi-weekly. That will help you lengthen your benefit period so you can cover the winter break and spring break with the same EI claim.

Maternity

  • Up to 15 weeks beginning no earlier than 12 weeks prior to the earlier of expected week of confinement, or no later than the week of confinement and ending 17 weeks after actual week of confinement.

Notes: 

  • Benefits are payable during the summer months.
  • The sum of maternity, parental, or sickness benefits cannot exceed 50 weeks, except for birth mothers who may be eligible for a total of up to 65 weeks.

Parental

  • Standard benefits are payable up to 35 weeks from date of arrival of child in home and ending 52 weeks later.
  • May be taken by either parent or shared between them.
  • Extended 5 weeks if child is ill and more than 6 months old when arriving at home.
  • Extended parental benefits are payable up to 61 weeks at a reduced weekly benefit rate of 33% of your average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum amount of $328 per week.

Notes: 

  • Benefit may be shared between two parents if both are eligible.
  • The sum of parental, maternity, and sickness benefits cannot exceed 50 weeks in a 52-week benefit period.
  • Regular EI benefits may be available after expiry of parental benefits.
  • Parents must elect whether the parental benefits will be extended at the time of application. The only choices are 35 weeks or 61 weeks. This election is final. If a parent chooses an extended parental leave but returns to work early, they will not receive additional benefits.

Sickness

  • Up to 15 weeks.

Compassionate Care

  • Up to a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits to provide care or support of a person at risk of dying within the 26-week period as stated on the medical certificate.
  • The benefit may be shared by eligible caregivers during a 52-week period, at the same time or one after another.

Family Caregiver Benefit for Adults

  • Up to a maximum of 15 weeks of benefits to provide care or support of a person whose baseline state of health has changed significantly and whose life is at risk as a result of illness or injury.
  • The benefit may be shared by eligible caregivers during a 52-week period, at the same time or one after another.
  • It can be taken consecutively with the compassionate caregiver benefit provided you meet the eligibility criteria for each benefit.

Family Caregiver Benefit for Children

  • Up to a maximum of 35 weeks of benefits to provide care or support of a person whose baseline state of health has changed significantly and whose life is at risk as a result of illness or injury.
  • The benefit may be shared by eligible caregivers during a 52-week period, at the same time or one after another.
  • It can be taken consecutively with the compassionate caregiver benefit provided you meet the eligibility criteria for each benefit.

Notes:

  • No employment insurance benefit is payable if receiving BCTF Salary Indemnity Plan benefits or salary continuance benefits.
  • The sum of sickness, maternity, or standard parental benefits cannot exceed 50 weeks in a 52-week benefit period except for birth mothers who may be eligible for a total of up to 65 weeks.
  • Regular EI benefits may be available after expiry of sickness benefits if you are able to work. If eligible, apply at least two weeks prior to the expiry of SIP/Salary continuance benefits.

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE "WEEK"

The employment insurance "week" is always counted from the Sunday of the week immediately following the interruption of earnings or the initial claim for benefits is made, and any income (e.g., salary, sick leave pay or SIP) received for any day or days of that week is subtracted from the employment insurance benefit for that week.


EARNINGS WHILE RECEIVING BENEFITS

  • Monies received as severance pay, vacation pay or separation money when the job ended may affect the start date of benefits. Apply for EI after becoming unemployed.
  • Persons receiving employment benefits can earn up to 25% of their benefits (or $50, whichever is greater) without having any deductions from their benefits. Any amounts earned in excess of 25% will be deducted from the weekly benefit.
  • Earnings in the waiting period, except paid sick leave or Supplemental Employment Benefit plan benefits, are deducted from the first three weeks of benefits.
  • Teachers' Pension Plan payments are not considered earnings if your EI claim is based on insurable weeks from employment subsequent to retirement.
  • Temporary WCB payments are considered earnings.
  • You must report your work earnings and hours for each week you work, in the week in which the work occurred.
  • Under the Working While on Claim pilot project, you may earn income while receiving employment benefits under the default rule or optional rule.
  • If you elect the optional rule, you will be able to keep the equivalent of up to roughly one day's work (defined as $75 or 40% of your benefit rate, whichever is greater) without any deduction from your benefits. Any amount earned above the equivalent of roughly one day's work will be deducted dollar-for-dollar from your benefits.
  • If you elect the optional rule, you will be able to keep the equivalent of up to roughly on day's work (defined as $75 or 40% of your benefit rate, whichever is greater) without any deduction from your benefits. Any amount earned above the equivalent of roughly one day's work will be deducted dollar-for-dollar from your benefits.
  • The pilot applies to both regular and special EI benefits.
  • The pilot project currently runs until August 11, 2018.


TEACHERS TEACHING-ON-CALL

  • Teachers Teaching-on-call who have established an EI claim and who are working from time to time will be subject to the foregoing clause (Earnings While Receiving Benefits.)
  • A new benefit period to commence at the termination of the present benefit period may be established provided you accumulate a further 420 to 700 hours of insurable employment.

RETIRED TEACHERS

  • Retired teachers teaching on call, or on temporary contract, may be eligible for EI despite being in receipt of a pension.
  • The accumulated insurable hours are reset upon retirement, so pre-retirement hours cannot be used to qualify for EI.
  • EI benefits are not offset by the amount of pension income.
  • EI benefits are offset by Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits.

Note:

  • If already in receipt of CPP you must declare this on your EI claim and the weekly amount payable will be reduced accordingly.

REPAYMENT

  • Whatever the type of benefits you receive, EI payments are taxable income, meaning federal and provincial or territorial taxes, where applicable, are deducted when you receive them. However, you may owe additional taxes if Service Canada has not deducted enough tax at source.

    At the time you file your income tax return, depending on your net income and if you were paid regular benefits, including regular fishing benefits, you may be required to repay some of the EI benefits you received. If your 2018 net income from all sources exceeds $64,625 you will be required to repay 30% of the lesser of:

    • your net income in excess of $64,625; or
    • the total regular benefits, including regular fishing benefits, paid in the taxation year.

Note:

  • You do not not have to repay your EI benefits if your 2018 net income is less that $64,625 or you were paid only a special benefit including maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care of family caregiver benefits.

PROCEDURES

  • For sickness benefits, request a "Record of Employment" from the school board at least two weeks prior to the expiration of paid sick leave.
  • For all other benefits, request a "Record of Employment" within five days of the last day worked. Usually this is electronically submitted.
  • Check to make sure the certificate is correct; i.e., the number of insurable weeks, the amount of insurable earnings, the correct reason for ending your employment. If you find an error, go to your school board and insist on an amended one. The board is obligated to give it if the facts on the original are incorrect. Check with the BCTF if you think this is incorrect.
  • Apply for EI benefits online at: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-apply-online.html. If the "Record of Employment (ROE)" is not available immediately, it can be submitted later.
  • If you have received severance pay, vacation pay or a retirement incentive, contact El immediately so that EI can determine whether these payments are to be included as earnings and if so, the number of weeks you must wait before your claim can start.
  • After the required number of weeks, you should apply for El benefits and meet all the normal requirements of El at that time.
  • If you are in receipt of pension income and wish to apply for EI benefits, the EI office will advise you if any El benefits are payable.

RECONSIDERATIONS & APPEALS

If your application for benefits is denied:

If your application for review is denied:

  • You have the right to appeal a review decision. Appeals must be within 30 days of receiving your review decision.
  • Detailed information on appeals is available at: http://www1.canada.ca/en/sst/index.html.
  • If you want advice on the advisability of a reconsideration or an appeal, contact the BCTF.

WHAT TO DO FOR El BENEFITS

  • Apply for employment insurance benefits as soon as you become unemployed, i.e., without a teaching contract. The waiting period is the weeks of your claim but it may take up to 28 days to receive your first payment. A delay in applying means a delay in obtaining your benefits. (See Duration of Benefits)
  • In order to stay on claim, you must be available for work and actively seeking work. This means you must be willing and able to work and actively seeking employment through canvassing employers on an almost daily basis even though the chances of finding employment may be slim.
  • Keep a detailed record of the employers whom you visit looking for work, and the dates on which you visited them.
  • Be prepared to accept any work which is suitable and you are able to perform, especially after a few weeks of unemployment.
  • If you have young children under your care, make arrangements for their care during working hours so that you will be able to accept a job when you find one.
  • Arrange for transportation to and from prospective jobs.
  • If you are interviewed, request a copy of the interview form prepared by the El officer before you leave the El office and check it for accuracy.

WHAT NOT TO DO

  • Do not restrict your search for work to one small local area. Do not restrict your search to teaching.
  • Do not restrict the hours of work which you will accept.
  • Do not allow your search for work to become too narrow, as suitable work may include any type of non-teaching work which you can reasonably hope to obtain, depending on your skills and qualification.
  • Do not confine yourself to one method of job search. Use telephone calls, answer newspaper ads, contact personnel offices and solicit friends.
  • You may be required to submit to an interview to find out whether you are available for and looking for work. You are not required to sign any statement.
  • Do not sign any statement presented by an EI interviewer unless you understand and agree with everything it says. Do not be led into making any statements which indicate you are placing restrictions on your chances of obtaining employment.

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?

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