Q: What is a waiting period and how has it changed?
A: A waiting period is a period of time in which an employee does not receive EI sickness benefits. The federal government waived the one-week waiting period. Employees will now be able to access benefits for their period of absence, up to a maximum of 15 weeks.
Q: Is a doctor's note required to access EI sickness benefits?
A: As of March 11, 2020, the federal government is waiving the medical note for individuals required to go into quarantine by law or a public-health official. If the quarantine period or self-isolation period extends beyond the original recommendation (by health authorities, your employer, or law) a signed medical certificate may still be necessary.
Q: Can employers top up employees' EI sickness benefits?
A: Yes, employers can establish a Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Plan (SUBP) to top up employees income during a period of unemployment due to a temporary layoff. This could include sickness and cover any period of unemployment due to a temporary stoppage of work, training, illness, injury, quarantine or any combination of such reasons.
A SUBP must be registered with Service Canada and must meet the requirements of the program, otherwise it will be treated as income and any EI benefits received may be reduced. For more information on EI Sickness Benefits or the Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Program visit:
EI sickness benefits: What these benefits offer
Supplemental employment benefit program
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
Q: What does the Canada Emergency Response Benefit provide?
A: The CERB will cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures.
The CERB applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed people who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
Q: How much can an employee claim and for how long?
A: This taxable benefit will provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
A portal for accessing the benefit will be available in early April.
Canadians will begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.
Q: What is a work-sharing program?
A: Work-sharing is designed to help eligible employers avoid layoffs due to a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity beyond the employer's control. The program is available to both federally and provincially regulated employers.
- Eligible employees can receive the EI benefits as income support.
- Affected employees must agree to work a reduced schedule and share available work over a specified period.
- Both the employer and the employee must apply to participate in a work-sharing program together.
- The mandatory waiting period was waived so that employers with a recently expired agreement may immediately apply for a new agreement without waiting between applications.
Q: What are the eligibility requirements for employers?
A: To be eligible for a work-sharing program, employers must:
- have been in business in Canada year-round for at least two years
- be a private business, publicly-held company, or a not-for-profit organization
- demonstrate that the shortage of work is temporary and beyond their control
- demonstrate a recent decrease in business activity of approximately 10%
- submit and implement a recovery plan designed to return the work-sharing individuals to normal working hours by the end of the program