Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 24 - Section 4

24.4.0 Qualifying period

The qualifying period is the established period during which earnings made by a self-employed person are considered to meet both the qualifying requirements as well as determine the weekly benefit rate.

24.4.1 Where the qualifying period falls

The qualifying period is the entire calendar year prior to the year in which a claim for benefit commences Footnote 1 . This is the case regardless of when during the year the self-employed person makes a claim for benefits. For example, if a self-employed person makes a claim as late in the year as the month of December, the self-employed person's qualifying period would commence January 1 of the preceding year and end on December 31 of that year.

24.4.2 Entrance requirements

Budget 2021 measures alert – Temporary measures are in place from September 26, 2021 to September 24, 2022 which affects the following information:

  • for benefit periods that begin September 26, 2021 to November 20, 2021, a self-employed person’s weekly insurable earnings is the greater of the amount determined under section 152.16 of the EI Act or $545
  • $5,289 of insurable earnings are required to be eligible for benefits

In order to qualify for special benefits, the self-employed person must have met the following four conditions, where they have:

  • entered into their agreement with the Commission for at least 12 months;
  • not terminated their agreement, nor can the agreement be deemed to have terminated;
  • met the minimum required annual earnings from self-employment within their qualifying period, indicated in the legislation as $6,000 or the amount fixed or determined in accordance with the regulations Footnote 2 ), if any, for that qualifying period; and
  • experienced an interruption of earnings Footnote 3 .

24.4.3 Qualifying period earnings - from self-employment only

Budget 2021 measures alert – Temporary measures are in place from September 26, 2021 to September 24, 2022 which affects the following information:

  • for Self Employed benefit periods beginning September 26, 2021 to November 20, 2021, if the calculated earnings result obtained is less than $545, the result is deemed to be $545

In order to qualify for special benefits, a self-employed person must have earned the required annual earnings from self-employment in their qualifying period which is $6,000 for claims established in 2011. This amount is determined in concert with the indexation of maximum insurable earnings Footnote 4 and so it may increase as the average wage in Canada increases.

The maximum amount of self-employment earnings in any qualifying period to be taken into account when calculating the benefit rate may not exceed the maximum yearly insurable earnings in effect during the year in which a claim for benefits is established. By meeting or exceeding the maximum yearly insurable earnings for the year in which a claim is established, the self-employed claimant will qualify for the maximum benefit rate available.

24.4.4 Qualifying period earnings - combination of self-employment, fishing and/or insured employment with an employer

If a self-employed person also has fishing and/or insured earnings from work with an employer in their qualifying period and they have chosen to request self-employment special benefits, earnings from all three types of employment which fall inside the qualifying period may be totalled to maximize the benefit rate, respecting the fact that the aggregate of all earnings remain capped by the maximum yearly insurable earnings for the year in which the claim is established.

However, with respect to the set minimum annual earnings required for qualification purposes, this amount must be met with earnings gained from self-employment only; the set minimum amount cannot be met by combining earnings from fishing and/or insured earnings from work with an employer Footnote 5 .

In cases of combined income from fishing or insured employment with an employer, Record(s) of Employment must first be provided to the Commission in order for these earnings to be considered in maximizing the benefit rate.

24.4.5 Qualifying period earnings limitation

The legislation is clear that earnings which fall in one's qualifying period may be used, for the purposes of establishing a claim for benefit, only once Footnote 6 .

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: