Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 1 - Section 8
1.8.0 Waiting period
The waiting period is a one-week period during which no benefits are paid to the claimant (EI Act 13). This provision can be likened to the deductible that applies in fire and automobile insurance policies, under which the insured person is expected to share a part of the damages or loss.
A claimant is generally not entitled to be paid benefits in a benefit period until the waiting period has been served (FCA A-499-01). During this period, benefits are not paid, however the waiting period can only be considered served if the claimant meets all of the entitlement conditions of the specific type of benefits requested. In other words, the claimant must show that they would have been entitled to payment, were it not for the requirement to serve the waiting period.
There are circumstances under which the waiting period does not have to be served immediately, or at all. The first relates to waiving the waiting period, the second to having the waiting period deferred.
126.96.36.199 Waiting period waived
If it is to the claimant’s advantage, a waiting period may be waived, which means it will never have to be served in the current benefit period. This applies to claims where a claimant experienced an interruption of earnings from employment, pursuant to EI Regulation 14(2) (special benefits), and was paid sick leave pay from the same employer, after they stopped working (EI Regulation 40(6)).
Waiving of the waiting period does not provide the claimant with an extra week of benefits. It only allows EI benefits to be payable from the first week of the claim, rather than after the waiting period has been served.
Sickness benefits: the waiting period can be waived when a claim for sickness benefits is made and the claimant qualifies to receive sickness and, after the claimant stopped working, allowances, payments or other moneys are payable to the claimant by the employer or former employer, as sick leave pay.
Provincial plans: a waiting period may be waived where benefits have been paid under a provincial plan such as the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.
Apprentices: Apprentice programs are usually multi-year programs which consist of several periods of classroom training followed by periods of on-the-job training, leading to certification as a skilled worker. In situations where a claimant has stopped working to attend approved apprentice training, the waiting period must be served. However, for any additional benefit periods established because the claimant is attending a subsequent period of classroom training that is part of the same apprenticeship program, the waiting period can be waived (EI Regulation 39(1)).
Specific details on these benefits, as well as the relevant waiting period criteria, may be found in the chapters of this digest devoted to the different types of benefits available under the EI program.
188.8.131.52 Waiting period deferred
Work-sharing benefits: the waiting period, or any earnings in the waiting period that have not been deducted from benefits are deferred while work-sharing benefits are being paid. However, if other benefits are claimed during the work-sharing claim or once it ends, the waiting period must then be served (EI Regulation 46).
Parental, compassionate care and family caregiver benefits: deferral of the waiting period may apply when more than one claimant is claiming parental, compassionate care or family caregiver benefits in respect of the same child/critically ill family member. In this situation the waiting period must be served by the first parent/family member to make a claim. Additional claimants claiming benefits for the same child/family member can have their waiting period deferred. This means the waiting period does not have to be served at the beginning of their claim (EI Act 23(5); EI Act 23.1(7); EI Act 23.2(6); EI Act 23.3(5)). However, once entitlement to those benefits ends, if a different type of benefits is claimed, the waiting period would have to be served before those benefits can be paid.
When the types of benefits above are shared, the waiting period could be waived rather than deferred, for any claimant who is claiming the same type of benefits for the same child/family member, and meets the conditions for waiving the waiting period.
1.8.2 Start of waiting period
The waiting period almost always occurs at the very beginning of the benefit period. It is served in the first week for which benefits would otherwise be payable to the claimant (EI Act 13).
Even if the waiting period is waived or deferred, there may be cases where benefits would not be payable for the first week of a benefit period, such as when a disentitlement is imposed for one or more full weeks, from the start of the claim. The serving of the waiting period will be delayed for as long as the disentitlement exists. It will only be served in the week following the week in which the disentitlement no longer applies, or the first week for which benefits would be payable, had there not been a waiting period.
Similarly, there are cases where earnings allocated to the first weeks of a benefit period are greater than the benefit rate; here again the serving of the waiting period is delayed. This occurs when the amount allocated to a relevant week is equal to or greater than 125% of the benefit rate.
It should be noted that a disqualification has no effect on the waiting period; the disqualification can only be served after the waiting period has been served (EI Act 28(2)).
1.8.3 Effect of waiting period
Monies considered as earnings and allocated to the week of the waiting period have no effect on the waiting period itself, but rather on the weeks following (EI Act 19(1)). This also applies for any days of disentitlement that fall within the waiting period (EI Act 20(1)), or for a combination of earnings and a disentitlement.
Specifically, the effect is on the first three weeks for which benefits would otherwise be payable, following the waiting period. These three weeks need not be consecutive; nor do they have to immediately follow the waiting period. Once earnings from the waiting period have been deducted from three weeks in the benefit period there is no further effect from the waiting period earnings, on the payment of benefits. Any earnings that were not deducted within those three weeks are disregarded.
1.8.4 Days of disentitlement
A deduction equal to one-fifth of the benefit rate will be made for each working day of disentitlement that falls within the waiting period (EI Act 20(1)). This deduction is subject to the rules discussed above, related to monies allocated during the waiting period. That is; the deduction will be made from up to the first three weeks for which benefits would otherwise be payable.
1.8.5 Earnings in waiting period
Earnings allocated to the waiting period are deducted dollar for dollar from future weeks of benefits (EI Act 19(1); EI Regulation 39(1)), to a maximum allocation equal to the weekly rate of benefits (EI Regulation 39(2)). Therefore, the maximum deduction for the waiting period will never be more than an amount equal to the claimant’s weekly benefit rate. This deduction is made based on the rules discussed under the heading "Effect of Waiting Period".
Earnings and days of disentitlement may occur at the same time. Here again, the maximum deduction from earnings and disentitlement days in the waiting period must not exceed the amount of the weekly benefit rate.
An exception applies for a claimant who becomes employed under a work-sharing agreement and has already served the waiting period during which they had earnings. In this situation, the effect of the earnings in the waiting period is not immediate. The deduction of those earnings will only occur after the end of the work-sharing agreement, should the claimant request another type of benefits (EI Regulation 46).
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