Yes, employees are eligible to collect Employment Insurance (“EI”) if they have been terminated “without cause”. Being terminated without cause means the employee was let go from their employment through no fault of their own. This is exactly the situation the Canadian Employment Insurance program was intended to address, to help Canadians who have lost their jobs due to economic downturns, restructuring, shortages of work etc.
What does it mean to be terminated without cause?
In Ontario, employers can legally terminate an employee as long as they provide them with notice of termination. Being terminated without cause means that when an employee is fired, it is not because of any serious misconduct. Learn more about what it means to be fired without cause.
What are the eligibility requirements for EI?
An individual is eligible for Employment Insurance when:
- They were previously employed in insurable employment;
- Their termination was without cause;
- They have not worked and have not been paid for at least seven days in a row;
- They have the requisite amount of insurable employment hours in the last calendar year;
- They are ready, willing, and capable of working each day; and,
- They are actively seeking employment.
When applying for EI, a Record of Employment is also required, which you can get from your former employer or Service Canada. If an employee is terminated without cause, their Record of Employment from their employer will reflect this, and if they meet all the other eligibility requirements, they should not have any issues accessing EI benefits.
Can you collect EI if you were terminated for cause?
Being terminated “for cause” means an employee committed some type of wilful misconduct which leads to them being fired. If the termination is for cause, that means there is no obligation for the employer to pay the employee any termination pay or provide them with reasonable notice of termination.
A “for cause” termination will be reflected on an employee’s Record of Employment and will preclude them from accessing EI benefits.
If an employer incorrectly classifies an employee’s termination as “for cause”, the employee can likely dispute this on their EI application. Service Canada will subsequently follow up with the employer and make a determination about the validity of the cause allegation and the employee’s resulting eligibility. If that application is denied, the employee can then make a “Request for Reconsideration”.
Can you collect EI if you quit?
If an employee voluntarily quits their job without just cause, they will not be eligible for EI benefits. This means that if it was the employee and not the employer who initiated the end of the employment relationship, the employee will not be able to access EI benefits.
If an employee quits their job, in order to access EI benefits they would have to show that quitting was the only reasonable option. Just because an employee feels they have a good reason to quit does not mean that quitting is justified in the eyes of Service Canada.
“Just cause” for quitting, in the context of EI, involves a very serious situation in which an employee had no other option but to quit. This includes:
- Sexual or other harassment;
- Working conditions that endanger health and safety; or,
- Your employer is doing things that break the law.
For more information about these reasons, and for the full list, go to the Government of Canada’s website: Employment Insurance (EI) and voluntarily leaving.
If you require information about the process of applying for Employment Insurance, the best way for you to proceed is to contact Service Canada.
If you have been terminated with or without cause, it is important that you consult an employment lawyer to learn your options concerning severance pay from your employer. Depending on your circumstances you may be entitled to a substantial severance package and Monkhouse Law lawyers can help you get what you deserve.