Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles   Chapter 9 - Section 7

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9.7.0 Disqualification

A disqualification may be imposed where:

  • there was a refusal of suitable employment without good cause Footnote 1 ;
  • there was a failure to carry out a written direction of the Commission Footnote 2 ;
  • there was a failure to attend an interview directed by the Commission Footnote 3 ; or,
  • a referral to a course of instruction has been terminated because the claimant, without good cause, failed to attend or participate, withdrew, or was expelled from the course Footnote 4 .

What must be determined is the length of disqualification to be imposed.

[ April 2014 ]

9.7.1 Job refusal: 7 to 12 week disqualification

A claimant who, without good cause, and since the interruption of earnings giving rise to the claim;

  • has not applied for suitable employment that is vacant, after becoming aware that it is vacant or is becoming vacant;
  • has failed to accept such employment after it has been offered to the claimant; or,
  • has not taken advantage of an opportunity for suitable employment,

is subject to a definite disqualification of not fewer than seven, and not more than twelve weeks of benefits Footnote 5 .

The length of the disqualification will be affected by the circumstances surrounding the refusal, and the willingness and interest shown by the claimant, in attempting to secure employment Footnote 6 .

An offhand or cavalier refusal of suitable employment may result in the maximum 12 week disqualification Footnote 7 ; a reason that is accompanied by extenuating circumstances would generally result in less than the 12 week maximum. All circumstances of each case must be examined in detail, to determine if extenuating circumstances exist, and if so, to what extent they should reduce the period of disqualification.

If circumstances were present, that involved one or more of the six criteria for determining suitability, but were not significant enough to render the employment unsuitable, a reduction in the period of disqualification would be in order. For example: the claimant's health was an issue, but it was not so significant that it did not allow the claimant to commute to the place of work, and to perform the work Footnote 8 ; there were daily expenses involving commuting to work and child care arrangements, but they were not so high that they would have put the claimant in a less favourable financial situation, Footnote 9 by accepting the employment; the daily commuting time to and from the place of employment was one hour, but the total 11 hour work day would have meant less time with a claimant's young family in the evening Footnote 10 . In addition, if the duration of the employment is seven weeks or less, the minimum seven week disqualification is appropriate Footnote 11 . Short term work is preferable to no work at all, so a refusal of even one day of suitable employment, could result in the minimum seven week disqualification Footnote 12 .

If the duration of the employment refused is longer than seven weeks, the length of the disqualification should not exceed the number of weeks that the employment would have lasted, had the employment been accepted, and will never exceed twelve weeks Footnote 13

The suitability of hours of work is not linked in the legislation, to the hours of work prior to the start of the claim. With few exceptions, claimants are obligated to seek and accept all hours of work, including part-time and full-time work Footnote 14 . Consequently, the length of a disqualification is not affected by the fact that the employment opportunity may be less than full-time. It is the suitability of the employment opportunity itself, and the circumstances surrounding the actual refusal, that are relevant, not the fact that the claimant may have worked either part-time or full-time in the qualifying period.

[ April 2014 ]

9.7.2 Written directions, interviews and courses of instruction; 1 to 6 week disqualification

A claimant who, without good cause and since the interruption of earnings giving rise to the claim;

  • has not carried out a written direction given by the Commission, with a view to assisting them to find suitable employment; or,
  • has not attended an interview that the Commission has directed them to attend, to provide information and instruction to help them find employment, or to identify whether the claimant might be assisted by job training,

is subject to a disqualification of benefits, from one to six weeks Footnote 15 .

A claimant is also subject to a one to six week disqualification if they have been referred to a course or an employment activity, and the referral has been terminated because, without good cause, the claimant has not attended or participated in the course or activity and is unlikely to successfully complete it, the claimant has withdrawn from the course or activity, or the organization providing the course or activity has expelled the claimant Footnote 16 .

[ April 2014 ]

9.7.3 Serving the disqualification

One to six, and seven to twelve week disqualifications are weeks of "definite" disqualification. As such they are to be served during the weeks following the waiting period and in weeks for which at least one dollar of benefits would have been payable, if the disqualification had not been imposed Footnote 17 . They cannot be served if there is no entitlement to benefits in a particular week, because of an indefinite disqualification, a disentitlement, or an allocation of earnings, all of which would preclude the payment of any benefits.

If the event that led to the definite disqualification occurred after the start of the benefit period, the definite disqualification will only start from the week of that event. The length of a definite disqualification is not affected by any subsequent loss of employment during the benefit period. If two definite disqualifications are imposed, they must be served consecutively, and not concurrently Footnote 18 .

Any portion of a definite disqualification that has not been served when the claimant's benefit period ends, shall be served in any benefit period subsequently established within two years after the event that gave rise to the definite disqualification Footnote 19 . However, a disqualification shall be carried forward against a claimant who has accumulated at least 700 hours of insurable employment, since the event giving rise to the disqualification Footnote 20 .

In addition, the Commission defers the serving of a definite disqualification, if the claimant is otherwise entitled to special benefits, or has been referred by the Commission or by an authority designated by the Commission, to a course of instruction, or to an employment activity Footnote 21 .

Any week in which a definite disqualification is served is deemed as a week of benefits paid, and therefore reduces the number of weeks of regular benefits otherwise payable in the benefit period Footnote 22 . However, a week of definite disqualification served will not prevent a claimant from requesting that a benefit period established with fewer than 600 hours of insurable employment (minor attachment claimant) Footnote 23 be cancelled so that a benefit period can be established with 600 hours or more, of insurable employment (major attachment claimant Footnote 24 ), to enable the claimant to receive special benefits Footnote 25 .

[ April 2014 ]

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