EI Maternity and Parental Benefits - Eligibility

2. Eligibility

The following information is a guideline. We encourage you to apply for benefits so our processing agents can determine if you are eligible.

You may be eligible to receive Employment Insurance (EI) maternity or parental benefits if:

  • you are employed in insurable employment;
  • you meet the specific criteria for receiving EI maternity or parental benefits;
  • your normal weekly earnings are reduced by more than 40%; and
  • you have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period or, if you are a self-employed fisher, you have earned enough money during the qualifying period.

You are employed in insurable employment

If you are employed in insurable employment, your employer will deduct the applicable EI premiums from your wages or salary.

You need to pay EI premiums on all your earnings up to a maximum amount. In 2017, for every $100 you earn, your employer will deduct $1.63, until your annual earnings reach the maximum yearly insurable amount of $51,300. The maximum amount of premiums to be paid in 2017 is therefore $863.19.

Since Quebec has its own program that offers maternity, paternity, and parental benefits, the Government of Canada has adjusted the premiums accordingly for that province. In 2017, the premium rate for workers in Quebec is set at $1.27 for every $100 of earnings, up to a maximum amount of $651.51 for the year.

You meet the specific criteria for receiving EI maternity or parental benefits

EI maternity benefits are payable only to the biological mother who is unable to work because she is pregnant or has recently given birth. To receive maternity benefits, you need to prove your pregnancy by signing a statement declaring the expected due date or the actual date of birth.

EI parental benefits are payable only to the biological, adoptive, or legally recognized parents while they are caring for their newborn or newly adopted child. To receive parental benefits, you must sign a statement declaring the newborn’s date of birth or, when there is an adoption, the child’s date of placement for the purposes of the adoption and the name and address of the adoption authority. In cases where the child is not legally adoptable, parental benefits could be payable from the date you attest that you consider the placement a permanent one and that it is your intent to adopt the child placed with you at the earliest opportunity. In these circumstances, the Commission may, at any time, request proof certifying that the child for whom you are claiming parental benefits has been placed with you by a recognized authority and that the placement was not merely a temporary one.

For biological or legally recognized parents, EI parental benefits can be paid starting from the child's date of birth. For adoptive parents, parental benefits can be paid starting from the date the child is placed with them for the purpose of adoption. In cases where the child is not legally adoptable, parental benefits could be payable from the date you attests that you consider the placement a permanent one and that it is your intent to adopt the child placed with you at the earliest opportunity.

Usually, EI parental benefits can only be paid during the 52 weeks after the week the child is born or, in the case of adoption, during the 52 weeks after the week the child is placed with you.

Your normal weekly earnings are reduced by more than 40%

When your normal weekly earnings are reduced by more than 40% because of pregnancy or your need to care for newborn or newly adopted children, you may be eligible for EI maternity or parental benefits.

You have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period

Hours of insurable employment are the hours you work, for either one or more employers under written or verbal contracts of service, for which you receive wages.

The qualifying period is the shorter of:

  • the 52-week period immediately before the start date of your EI period; or
  • the period since the start of a previous EI benefit period, if that benefit period started during the last 52 weeks.

To be eligible for EI maternity benefits, you must have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment in your qualifying period. If you are a self-employed fisher, you must have earned $3,760 from fishing during the 31-week qualifying period immediately before the start of your benefit period.

To be eligible for EI parental benefits, each parent who applies for benefits must have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment in his or her qualifying period. If you are a self-employed fisher, you must have earned $3,760 from fishing during the 31-week qualifying period immediately before the start of your benefit period.

Both parents apply for EI parental benefits

Both parents can apply for EI parental benefits but they have to share the benefits. In total, there are 35 weeks of parental benefits available to eligible parents of a newborn or newly adopted child.

There are many ways you can decide to use your parental leave. For instance, one of the parents can take the entire 35 weeks of benefits, or both parents can share them.

Examples

  • If the biological mother wants to return to work after her maternity leave, the other parent can then take the 35 weeks of parental benefits.
  • If one spouse decides to take only 10 weeks of parental leave before returning to work, the other spouse can use the remaining 25 weeks of benefits.
  • If one spouse decides to return to work after taking a few weeks of parental leave, but then realizes a few weeks later that he or she would prefer to stay home with the child, he or she is still entitled to the unused weeks of parental benefits, as long as the 52-week period after the birth or adoption placement has not expired.
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