“Can I work while collecting EI?” – Canada’s Working While on Claim Program


This post was inspired by my wife, who after giving birth to our son a few months back asked if she could work a few hours here and there while on parental leave to get out of the house and earn some extra spending money.

It turns out that people receiving most types of employment insurance (including regular benefits and parental benefits) are allowed to work, although it may not result in much extra cash.

Under a previous program, EI participants were allowed to earn the greater of $75 or 40% of their weekly entitlements and their benefits would not be reduced. However, every dollar earned over this threshold would be deducted dollar for dollar from their EI benefits.

On August 8, 2015, Service Canada renewed a “Working While on Claim” pilot project. Under this program, EI participants will be able to keep 50% of EI benefits for every dollar earned, up to 90% of the weekly insurable earnings that are used to calculate the EI benefit amount. Any amount earned above this threshold will be deducted dollar for dollar.

Confused? Fortunately Service Canada provides some useful examples.

Christine’s weekly insurable earnings are $800. Her earnings threshold would therefore be $720 ($800 x .90 = $720). If Christine is collecting EI benefits based on weekly insurable earnings of $800, we would deduct the equivalent of 50% of her earnings from her EI benefits, until those earnings reach $720 (the earnings threshold). Any money Christine earns that is more than $720 (the earnings threshold) will be deducted from her EI benefits dollar for dollar.

Christine’s weekly insurable earnings are $800. This means that her weekly EI benefits would come to $440 ($800 x .55). Assume that she applied for a short term, temporary job as an Election’s monitor in our upcoming election. She will be paid $15/h and will work 12h over two days and earn $180.

Since she earned less than her earnings threshold of $720 we would need to calculate the adjustment to Christine’s EI benefits as follows:

  • $180 x 0.5 = $90
  • $440 – $90 = $350

Working for Election’s Canada will result in Christine receiving $180 in employment income and $350 in benefits, for a total of $530.

For more examples of Canada’s Working While on Claim pilot project, consult Service Canada.

David M. Brown
Kent Employment Law
LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/davidmjbrown
Twitter: @davidmjbrown

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