Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 12 - Section 4

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12.4.0 Maternity benefits with respect to other provisions

A claim for maternity benefits is unique in the impact that certain provisions of the Employment Insurance Act have during the period that the claimant is in receipt of maternity benefits. These situations are covered in the sections that follow.

12.4.1 Regular benefits within the maternity period

The fact that a woman is pregnant or has given birth does not automatically render her unavailable for and incapable of work. On the contrary, she can request and be paid regular benefits within her maternity period (or even move back and forth between regular and maternity benefits), provided of course, that during the period she claims regular benefits she is able to prove her availability and capability for work Footnote 1 . The principles regarding availability in cases of maternity are found in another chapter of this Digest Footnote 2 .

However, regular benefits are not payable to a claimant who could not qualify to establish a benefit period for regular benefits and only qualifies for maternity benefits as a result of the regulatory exception Footnote 3 . She can receive special benefits only.

The Québec Parental Insurance Plan provides for specific rules in terms of entitlement to EI benefits Footnote 4 .In fact, a regulatory provision Footnote 5 provides for the disentitlement from EI benefits for the weeks during which a person who has received benefits from the provincial plan in respect to the birth or adoption of a child or has made a claimed and is entitled to such benefits Footnote 6 .

12.4.2 Fishing claims

Individuals who earn their insurable employment in fishing may be able to establish a claim for maternity benefits based on their insurable employment in fishing. A fisher woman will be entitled to EI maternity benefits if she is major attached, that is, has $3760 or more of insurable earnings as a fisher in her qualifying period Footnote 7 .

The maximum number of weeks of regular fishing benefits combined with special benefits is limited to 50, however, when regular benefits were not paid, fishers are entitled to receive more special benefits depending on the types of special benefits combined in a benefit periodFootnote 8 .

The rulesFootnote 9 in place pursuant to the Québec Parental Insurance Plan also apply to fishing claims.

12.4.3 While disqualified or disentitled

A disqualification or certain disentitlements will not prevent the payment of EI maternity benefits because the Act provides for the deferral Footnote 10 or suspension Footnote 11 of any disqualification and for the suspension of certain disentitlements Footnote 12 during the period that the claimant is in receipt of maternity benefits.

12.4.4 Labour dispute

Under the EI program, a claimant who is subject to disentitlement because of a labour disputeFootnote 13 at her place of employment may have that disentitlement suspendedFootnote 14 in order to receive maternity benefits subject to proving entitlement to maternity benefits.

Before the disentitlement can be suspended, the EI claimant who would otherwise be entitled to maternity benefits were it not for the labour dispute, must prove that her absence from work was foreseen and that arrangements with the employer to be off work due to maternity leave had begun with the employer before the start of the labour dispute Footnote 15 .

The disentitlement imposed as a result of a labour dispute could not be suspended in the case of a woman who, during the work stoppage, is entitled to receive benefits from the Québec Parental Insurance Plan; as a general rule, this woman cannot otherwise prove that she is entitled to EI maternity or parental benefitsFootnote 16 .

Claimants on maternity leave when a stoppage of work occurs will not be affected by the provisions relative to labour disputes. However, a disentitlement may be imposed at the end of the maternity leave period if the woman is unable to resume her previous employment as a result of a stoppage of work attributable to a labour disputeFootnote 17 .

12.4.5 Teaching and non-teaching period

Teachers may receive EI maternity benefits during both the teaching and non-teaching period Footnote 18 provided all entitlement criteria for the payment of maternity benefits are met.

The rules Footnote 19 relating to the Québec Parental Insurance Plan apply in context; they specify, among other things, that a person who is entitled under a provincial plan to receive benefits in respect of a birth or an adoption is generally disentitled from receiving EI maternity or parental benefits Footnote 20 .

12.4.6 Outside Canada

A claimant who is outside Canada temporarily or permanently, is entitled to maternity benefits, unless their social insurance number has expired. A claimant in receipt of these benefits is not required to prove availability for work, and will not be disentitled for the sole reason of being out of the country Footnote 21 .

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