Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 4 - Section 1

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Chapter 4 — Week of unemployment

4.1.0 Authority

Once a benefit period has been established on behalf of a personFootnote 1, that person may be paid benefits in respect of every week of unemployment falling within itFootnote 2.

Under the legislation, benefit can be paid only for weeks of unemploymentFootnote 3. So, for every week of benefit claimed in a benefit period, payment of benefit hinges on whether or not the claimant has demonstrated unemployment in that week.

4.1.1 Application

Regardless of whether regular or special benefits are being claimed, claimants must first show that they have been unemployed during the week for which a claim is madeFootnote 4.

Claimants who attend a course or program of instruction or training or participate in any other employment activity to which they have been referredFootnote 5 are deemed to be unemployed. The same is true in respect of certain periods of the year for claimants who have established a fishing rather than a regular benefit periodFootnote 6.

[ October 2006 ]

4.1.2 Week of unemployment defined

The definition of a week of unemployment is not restricted to a week in which the claimant performs no work at all. A week of unemployment includes a week in which the claimant worked for less than the full working week and receives less than a full week's wageFootnote 7.

The definition of a full working week is found in the Regulations and depends upon whether or not a person's hours of work are controlled by an employerFootnote 8.

4.1.3 Amount to be deducted

Once it has been decided that the week claimed is a week of unemployment any earnings arising out of a claimant's employment during that week must be considered Footnote 9 . The appropriate deduction from the benefits payable will then be made for that weekFootnote 10.

Where an individual becomes self-employed in the middle of a week, often the earnings applicable to that very first week are virtually impossible to determine; the same is true for the week in which a business is discontinued. To resolve this problem and avoid having to compute the amount to be deducted from benefits payable for those weeks, it is practical to hold the claimant as not available for the few days worked in the weekFootnote 11.

4.1.4 Factors to consider

To determine whether one works a full working week, any activities normally carried on for the purpose of gain must be examined. These are:

  1. the performance of any services giving rise to earnings, including non-insurable employment as well as employment outside of Canada;
  2. any self-employment or engagement in the operation of a business, including that as a partner or co-adventurer, or any other employment in which claimants control their working hours;
  3. remuneration without the performance of services;
  4. work without remuneration.

4.1.5 Activities to be disregarded

The following activities are not considered employment:

  1. taking part in a picket line, even if a strike allowance is paid;
  2. jury duty in a trial; but the same is not true for a claimant summoned to assist in fighting a forest fire;
  3. construction of one's own house, even if part of it will be used as a rental apartment or commercial premises;
  4. helping friends without remuneration to build a cottage;
  5. learning a trade in a friend's business without remuneration or a promise of employment;
  6. letters written to publishing companies in an effort to have a completed book published.

The activities mentioned above may however throw some doubt on a claimant's availability for work, and this becomes the question to pursue in the circumstancesFootnote 12.

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