Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles   Chapter 6 - Section 1

6.1.0 Introduction

The purpose of the Employment Insurance system has long been described as an insurance scheme which is in place to compensate persons whose employment has terminated involuntarily and who are without work.

As part of this system, provisions exist within the legislation that limit the payments in circumstances where claimants voluntarily place themselves in a position of unemployment. Accordingly, the legislation provides for claimants to be disqualified from receiving benefits if they have voluntarily left their employment without just cause.

The adjudication of voluntary leaving is a two-fold process. The burden is on the Canada Employment Insurance Commission to show that the leaving was voluntary. The Commission also has the obligation to consider all possible applicable circumstances. Once the voluntary nature of the leaving has been established, the onus shifts to the claimant to demonstrate just cause for so leaving. Consequently, the adjudicator must first determine that the reason for separation was in fact voluntary leaving. Once this has been established, it must be determined if just cause is present.

On the surface, it would appear that voluntary leaving would be easy to identify. In most cases this is true, but situations exist where the circumstances surrounding the reason for separation may not be straightforward. For this reason, the importance of thorough fact-finding with all interested parties cannot be over-emphasized.

The claimant and the employer must have an equal opportunity to provide information. The information obtained from both parties will ensure that the facts of the situation on file are as comprehensive as possible. Final rebuttal must always be given to the claimant. There must be no allegations on file that have not been presented to the claimant with an opportunity for explanation or clarification.

Each case must be adjudicated on its own merits and all circumstances relevant to the reason for separation must be considered in order to make a fair decision in accordance with the Act, Regulations and Jurisprudence.

This Chapter will define voluntary leaving, discuss circumstances where it is at times difficult to determine whether or not the reason for separation is one of voluntary leaving, explain the legal test for just cause, discuss the considerations that must be made and illustrate how to apply the legislation and the principles issued from jurisprudence given certain voluntary leaving circumstances.

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