EI regular benefits: Do you qualify

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Do you qualify

The information below should be used as a guideline. We encourage you to apply for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits as soon as possible and let us determine if you’re eligible.

You need to demonstrate that you:

  • were employed in insurable employment
  • lost your job through no fault of your own
  • have been without work and without pay for at least 7 consecutive days in the last 52 weeks
  • have worked for the required number of insurable employment hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is shorter
  • are ready, willing and capable of working each day
  • are actively looking for work (you must keep a written record of employers you contact, including when you contacted them)

To prove your eligibility and to receive payments you may be entitled to, you’re required to complete bi-weekly reports by internet or telephone. Failure to do so can mean a loss of benefits.
You may still qualify for benefits, even if you work for an employer who is related to you.

Refer to the following links for eligibility information for these specific situations:

You may not be entitled for benefits:

  • if you voluntarily left your job without just cause
  • if you were dismissed for misconduct
  • if you're unemployed because you're directly participating in a labour dispute (for example, a strike, lockout or other type of conflict)
  • during a period of leave that compensates for a period in which you worked under an agreement with your employer, more hours than are normally worked in full-time employment

COVID-19 vaccination

In most cases, if you lose or quit your job because you didn’t comply with your employer’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, you won’t be eligible for EI regular benefits. To determine if you’re eligible, we may contact you to obtain information such as: 

  • if your employer clearly communicated a mandatory COVID‑19 vaccination policy to you
  • if you were informed that not complying with the policy would result in you losing your employment
  • if applying the policy to you was reasonable within your workplace context
  • if you have a valid reason for not complying with the policy and your employer didn’t provide you an exemption 

We’ll use the facts provided by you and your employer to determine if you’re entitled to benefits.

You’re not entitled to receive EI benefits while you’re confined to a jail, penitentiary or other similar institution.

If you’ve been incarcerated but are later found not guilty by a court of law on all counts in relation to the event that led to your incarceration, your qualifying period and benefit period may be extended upon providing necessary proof.

Once you’ve applied for EI benefits, you’ll be asked to provide us with proof that you were confined to a jail, penitentiary or other similar institution and that you were not found guilty of the offence(s) from the event(s) for which you were being held.

For a qualifying period or benefit period to be extended, you’ll be asked to submit the following documents:

  • a letter from the institution where you were incarcerated, specifying the dates of your incarceration
  • documentation showing that no other outstanding charge(s) in relation to the event(s) that originally led to the incarceration exist, to confirm the time served is not being credited to any other charge(s) in relation to the original event or any other subsequent event
  • proof that you have not been found guilty of the charge(s) from the original event that led to your incarceration

Keep these documents in a safe place. We’ll contact you and provide you with instructions on how to submit them.

Number of hours of insurable employment required to qualify for EITemporary

The qualifying period is the shorter of:

  • the 52-week period immediately before the start date of your claim. or
  • the period from the start of a previous benefit period to the start of your new benefit period, if you applied for benefits earlier and your application was approved in the last 52 weeks
  • Exception: In some cases, the qualifying period may be extended to a maximum of 104 weeks if you weren’t employed in insurable employment or if you weren’t receiving EI benefits.

    Until September 24, 2022 Temporary

    You only need to have accumulated 420 hours of insurable employment during your qualifying period to qualify for EI benefits.

    If you were assessed a violation, you may need more insurable hours to qualify for benefits. The required amount rises based on the number and seriousness of misrepresentations that have been recorded in the 5-year period before the start of your claim.

    After September 24, 2022

    You will need between 420 and 700 hours of insurable employment based on the unemployment rate in your area during the qualifying period to qualify for regular benefits:

    Once you have determined the unemployment rate in your area, see the table below for the number of hours required.

    Look up EI Economic Region by Postal Code to find out the unemployment rate in your region and the number of hours to qualify for regular benefits.

    If you received a notice of violation regarding prior EI benefit periods, the number of insurable hours required to qualify is increased.

    The number of hours is shown in the following table:

    Number of hours of insurable hours required to qualify for benefits
    Regional rate of unemployment Without violation Minor violation Serious violation Very serious violation Subsequent violation
    6 % and under 700 875 1050 1225 1400
    6.1 % to 7 % 665 831 998 1164 1330
    7.1 % to 8 % 630 788 945 1103 1260
    8.1 % to 9 % 595 744 893 1041 1190
    9.1 % to 10 % 560 700 840 980 1120
    10.1 % to 11 % 525 656 788 919 1050
    11.1 % to 12 % 490 613 735 858 980
    12.1 % to 13 % 455 569 683 796 910
    More than 13 % 420 525 630 735 840

    Not applicable to you

    Are EI regular benefits not applicable to you? Use the Benefits Finder to find other Government of Canada, provincial, or territorial benefits.

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