Timing for Reporting on Employment Insurance (8:X)
Individuals should pay special attention to report due dates. Each claim has its own due dates, and the specific timing for meeting these due dates can differ between the telephone, internet and paper systems. For example, all Telephone Reporting Service reports made on the weekend are processed at 3:00 p.m. Sunday.
Claimants must complete their reports throughout the claim period whether or not they are receiving benefits (for example, during the waiting period or a period of disqualification). When an appeal is pending, reports must continue to be made because if the appeal is successful, the claimant may find that there will be no payment for any week for which no report has been made (EI Regulations, s 26).
Individuals on pregnancy, parental, and sickness benefits should continue to make reports.
- NOTE: Workers whose weekly income amounts tend to fluctuate (e.g. trade workers) should try to estimate as carefully as possible when providing an income figure. Those claimants who either err on the side of caution by declaring an amount that is too high or those who under-declare their actual income may be deemed by the Commission as providing “false or misleading information” and may incur penalties. The best way to avoid penalties is to always inform the Commission of the exact amount as soon as it is known to be correct. Also, an appeal should be filed immediately if a claimant is penalized for an inaccurate estimate of weekly earnings. The test for a penalty is that the claimant knew that the information he or she was giving was false. Honest attempts to predict actual earnings should not lead to penalties, even when it results in an overpayment of benefits.
It is generally a good idea to fill in all the documents the Commission requires and to return them immediately, since failure to do so may involve delay, if not disentitlement. Also, keep copies of all documents in chronological order.
One of the greatest difficulties with EI is delay. The computer is very sensitive to errors and sometimes delays occur as a result. Often the delays are related to report cards, and in certain cases it is possible to get the insurance officer to use his or her “backup manual pay system” rather than waiting for the computer. If this is done, the claimant may get his or her money quickly.
Another solution to delay may often be to hassle the Commission. In extreme cases, you may wish to consider writing to the Minister (Employment and Immigration) with copies, to the claimant’s Member of Parliament, or to opposition critics. See Chapter 5: Public Complaints Procedure.
C. Self-Employment While Claiming EI
Unlike employees, self-employed people and independent contractor are not automatically covered by the EI system. These workers have the option of opting in to the EI system, in which case they may be entitled to receive certain special benefits, but not regular benefits .
Even though self-employed people and independent contractors are not automatically covered by the EI system, claimants may get into trouble if they try to start up a business while collecting EI after losing their job. Contrary to many claimants’ belief, self-employment amounts to “working” within the meaning of the question on the weekly reports even if the person has no expectation of receiving any income from it. Section 30 of the EI Regulations provides that, in most cases, a claimant engaged in self-employment is deemed to have worked a full week, unless the self-employment is “so minor in extent that a person would not normally follow it as a principal means of livelihood”. Failure to report such activity will usually lead to overpayments and penalties or charges for misrepresentation. Decisions by the Commission on overpayment and/or the imposition of penalties should always be appealed
If a claimant wishes to start a business while on EI, he or she should contact the Commission before doing anything to pursue self-employment. Special benefits may be available if the claimant enters an approved self-employment agreement for the development and implementation of a business plan.
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