Employment Insurance and the various types of earnings
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You should know
Earnings paid or payable at the end of your employment affect the amount of benefits you have or may receive. Furthermore, some earnings paid or payable upon separation can:
- delay the start date of your claim
- delay the 1-week waiting period to serve
- delay the date on which you begin receiving benefits
- reduce the amount of benefits, or
- provide the right to an extension of the benefit period
Earnings are any amount paid or payable that is related to or originated from employment, such as:
- wages or salary and commissions
- monetary employment benefits, such as:
- vacation pay
- severance pay
- wages in lieu of notice
- retirement pension
- statutory holidays, or
- all other employment benefits, monetary or otherwise, such as:
- meals, or
- insurance coverage
- self-employment income
Compensation received following the loss of your employment or from other sources may also be considered as earnings for benefit purposes, for example, certain workers’ compensation benefits or group wage-loss insurance. However, other moneys and payments for benefits not related to employment do not constitute earnings for benefit purposes, for example, alimony payments, lottery winnings or inheritances.
You are responsible for reporting all monies received
You are responsible for reporting:
- any income paid or payable to you
- any benefits, cash or other, received, or
- income that you earn from any self-employment activities
In order for us to determine if the amounts or benefits paid or payable are earnings for EI benefit purposes, we must determine the true nature of the payment. To reach this decision, we may ask:
- the amount and type of payment
- who made the payment
- the reason for the payment and the terms and conditions under which the payment was made
- where did the payment come from and where is it going
The earnings we consider are the amount before deductions. Earnings paid in foreign funds are converted into Canadian dollars at the current exchange rate at the time the earnings were paid or became payable.
The various types of earnings
Several types of earnings may be paid or payable upon separation from employment or during a benefit period. Earnings can also be paid for different reasons. You can refer to the earnings chart to find out if a payment constitutes earnings for benefit purposes and, if so, how those earnings are deducted from benefits.
Your normal weekly earnings
Some earnings shown on the earnings chart are deducted from your benefits at the rate of your normal weekly earnings. Generally, your normal weekly earnings correspond to your regular weekly salary, before deductions, from your employment that paid the earnings. When you receive a weekly wage, the normal weekly earnings are calculated by multiplying the number of hours normally worked per week by the hourly wage rate.
Conversion examples for determining normal weekly earnings
- Your rate of pay is $10 per hour and you normally work 40 hours per week. The normal weekly earnings will be $10 x 40 = $400.
- Your bi-weekly salary is $800. The normal weekly earnings will be $800 ÷ 2 = $400
- Your semi-monthly salary is $866.66. The normal weekly earnings will be $866.66 x 24 ÷ 52 = $399.99
- Your monthly salary is $1,733.33. The normal weekly earnings will be $1,733.33x 12 ÷ 52 = $399.99, or
- Your yearly salary is $20,800. The normal weekly earnings will be $20,800 ÷ 52 = $400
In addition to wages paid for normal and overtime hours, the normal weekly earnings can also include:
- regular shift premiums
- incentives or cost of living allowances
- a percentage paid as vacation pay included with each pay, and
- commissions paid at regular intervals or other amounts
We generally use the information you provided in your application for benefits to determine normal weekly earnings. If the information provided seems unreasonable or is incorrect, we’ll contact you to determine your normal weekly earnings. If your normal weekly earnings vary, we will use an amount corresponding to 85% of the weeks used in calculating your EI benefit rate.
You work 35 hours per week at $9.50 per hour. Because you work evenings, you receive a shift premium of $0.50 per hour. Since starting work last year, you have worked evenings, with the exception of your first 2 weeks of work. Your normal weekly earnings will be 35 x $10.00= $350.00. In this example, the shift premium is included with the hourly rate because you earned that wage regularly for more than 85% of your employment period.
You normally work on a day shift for 40 hours per week. You earn $10.00 per hour for the day shift. You receive a shift premium of $0.25 per hour for the evening shift and $0.35 per hour for the night shift. Since starting work 8 months ago, you have worked 3 weeks of evening shifts and 6 weeks of night shifts. Every Thursday, you work 3 hours of overtime at $15.00 per hour. Your normal weekly earnings will be 40 hours x $10.00 + 3 hours of overtime x $15.00 = $445.00. In this example, the shift premium is not included, as you only worked evenings or nights for approximately 15% of your employment period. However, the overtime is included, as you worked it every Thursday.
You work on call, earning $9.00 per hour. On your application for benefits, you indicated that you worked 10 to 20 hours per week. When we questioned you further, you were unable to be more specific. In this type of situation, we averaged the number of hours worked and determined that your weekly earnings will be 15 hours x $9.00 = $135.00.
Earnings paid or payable
When it is determined that a payment is earnings, we may have to allocate those earnings. To be able to do this, we must determine whether the earnings have been paid or are payable.
Earnings are considered "paid" when you have actually received and accepted the payment. The concept of "paid" combines the offer of payment with your acceptance of the payment. Earnings are also considered "paid" when you are expecting the payment to be in your possession shortly, usually in the next pay cycle. This is generally the case with:
- wages and salary,
- vacation pay paid with each pay,
- periodic pensions, and
- separation pay
Earnings are also considered to have been paid when the amount is directly deposited in your bank account or used as satisfaction of a debt of yours.
Earnings are "payable" when your employer or other person is required to pay you and you can legally demand payment. For EI purposes, earnings are only considered payable when the obligation to pay the earnings is immediate and not when the obligation to pay occurs at a later date. This means that only earnings that are payable immediately will be allocated for EI benefit purposes. Earnings that are due in the future will be considered and allocated when the obligation to pay them exists and only if the payment is for a period when benefits were claimed.
Choosing the appropriate allocation period
Once it has been determined that earnings have been paid or are payable, the appropriate allocation period must be chosen. When allocating earnings, we consider the following 3 factors:
- the type of earnings
- the amount before deductions
- if the amount was paid for a specific work period, if it was paid by reason of a lay-off or separation or for some other reason
When the earnings were not paid due to a lay-off or separation, the allocation period is determined based on the type of earnings paid or payable and the reason for payment. For example, earnings paid under the terms of a contract of employment in exchange for services rendered must be allocated over the period during which the services were rendered even if they are paid at a later date. For instance, the wages for the performance of services are payable for the number of hours or days that you worked, meaning the period during which the work was performed.
All earnings paid by reason of a lay-off or separation are allocated from the week of the lay-off or separation, based on the normal weekly earnings for that employment, no matter the period for which the earnings are supposed to be paid or payable. These earnings include all amounts paid to compensate the worker for the loss of employment, such as:
- pay in lieu of notice
- severance pay
- damages for wrongful dismissal and closure bonuses
- any payment of unused employment benefits to which the employee is entitled, such as:
- vacation pay
- accumulated sick leave credits
Example 1: vacation pay and severance pay
Your employment ended on August 8, 2019 due to a plant closure and you are not expected to return. In the week of August 11, 2019, you apply for regular benefits. Your normal salary was $500 per week. Following your lay-off, your employer paid you the following:
- your salary for the week of 5 to 8 August 2019: $400
- vacation pay: $600
- severance pay: $1,500
The wages, vacation pay and severance pay are earnings and are consequently deductible from your benefits. The vacation pay and severance pay are earnings allocated as follows, based on the normal weekly earnings for that employment:
- August 4 to 10, 2019: Salary of $400 + Vacation pay of $100
- August 11 to 17, 2019: Vacation pay of $500
- August 18 to 24, 2019: Severance pay of $500
- August 25 to August 31, 2019: Severance pay of $500
- September 1 to 7, 2019: Severance pay of $500
- September 8 to 14, 2019: Waiting period to serve, and
- September 15 to 21, 2019: EI benefits paid
In this example, the allocations of these earnings have the following effects:
- delays the required 1 week waiting period to serve
- delays the date on which you begin receiving benefits, and
- allows a 4-week extension of your benefit period because these monies are paid due to a complete separation from employment
Example 2: part-time income
Your claim for benefits begins May 19, 2019. You served the 1-week waiting period from May 19 to May 25, 2019. Your weekly benefit rate is $350. During your claim, you work part-time for 3 weeks, from June 19 to July 11, 2019. On July 19, 2019, your employer pays you $925 as wages, which represent:
- $300 for June 19, 20 and 21, 2019
- $125 for June 26, 2019
- $500 for July 8, 9, 10 and 11, 2019
The part-time wages are earnings and are consequently deductible from your benefits as follows:
- June 16 to 22, 2019:
- $300 salary for June 19, 20 and 21, 2019
- June 23 to 29, 2019:
- $125 salary for June 26, 2019
- June 30 to July 6, 2019:
- no salary or other income earned; you receive your EI benefits
- July 7 to 13, 2019:
- $500 salary for July 8, 9, 10 and 11, 2019
In this example, although your employer paid your salary as a lump sum, it is allocated over the periods during which the work was performed.
Earnings payable under the terms of an employment contract without services being provided or earnings payable by an employer in consideration of returning to or beginning work must be allocated over the period for which they are payable. Examples of these include:
- compensation allowance that you receive to return to work or begin work for an employer
- compensatory leave financed by the number of overtime hours worked in addition to your normal work week or the portion of your salary that is set aside when you work in order for you to be paid during your period of leave.
Example 3: portion of salary set aside
Over a period of 5 years, one fifth of your salary was set aside for the first 4 years to ensure you receive income during a one-year leave in the fifth year. In this example, the portion of the salary that was set aside during the period worked will be paid to you during your leave period. This income is considered earnings and is allocated over the leave period (the period for which the earnings are payable).
The term "Statutory holidays" refers to legal and provincial holidays designated by the federal or provincial government. Employers often use the same term to refer to those holidays set out by a custom or a collective agreement.
Earnings for a statutory holiday are part of the overall earnings from any job. Payment received for a statutory holiday is allocated to the week in which the statutory holiday falls.
A statutory holiday can fall before or after lay-off or separation or during the benefit period. Payment made for specific statutory holidays is, nonetheless, always allocated to the week in which the statutory holiday falls because the reason for the payment is, in fact, your entitlement to the statutory holiday and not by reason of any lay-off or separation.
When the employer and the union agree that a statutory holiday be observed on another day, the earnings paid for that statutory holiday are allocated to the week in which that new day falls, to the extent that such terms are dictated by a custom or a collective agreement. However, if it is shown that the change in statutory holiday was made solely to bypass the EI Act, the earnings will be allocated to the week of the actual statutory holiday.
Example 4: statutory holidays
You have been receiving EI benefits since September 22, 2019. On November 20, 2019, your former employer pays you $375.00 for the statutory holidays of December 25 and 26, 2019 and January 1, 2020.
The statutory holiday pay is earnings and is deducted as follows:
- December 22 to 28, 2019:
- $250 for the statutory holidays of December 25 and 26, 2019
- December 29, 2019 to January 4, 2019:
- $125 for the statutory holiday of January 1, 2020
In this example, even though your employer paid the 3 statutory holidays as a lump sum amount, it is allocated to the week in which each statutory holiday falls.
Pension income resulting from any employment constitutes earnings for benefit purposes. These include:
- employer pension plans, including employment as a member of the Armed Forces or any police force. This also applies to pensions from employment in another country, whether or not the employment was insurable
- the Canada Pension Plan, and
- the Quebec Pension Plan
However, pension income resulting indirectly from employment does not always constitute earnings. In the following cases, all or part of the pension is not considered to be earnings:
- the pension of an individual who requalifies for EI benefits after the date on which payment of the pension begins, or
- disability pensions from employment as well as disability pensions from the Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan
The following pensions do not arise from your employment and, for that reason, do not constitute earnings for EI benefit purposes:
- Personal Pension Plans such as:
- a Registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), or
- a Registered retirement income funds (RRIF)
- Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVC) to a pension fund
- survivor’s pensions or dependent’s pensions
- the portion of the pension payable to you as a spouse in the case of:
- legal separation, or
- Veteran’s pensions from the Department of Veterans Affairs
- Old Age Security pensions and supplements
The following pension earnings are not considered payable until the pension or annuity arising from these pension credits becomes payable:
- pension credits left in a pension plan to support a deferred pension or used to purchase an annuity. These pension credits are not considered as earnings for EI benefit purposes until the person applies for the deferred pension or the deferred annuity becomes payable
- pension credits transferred by the employer to a locked-in, non-commutable RRSP, such as a Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA) in Manitoba or a Compte de Retraite Immobilisé (CRI) in Quebec that is locked in and non-commutable until retirement age. These pension credits are not considered as earnings for EI benefit purposes until an annuity is purchased with the proceeds from the account
- pension credits transferred to the pension fund of another employer if the new pension plan permits this transfer. The pension credits are not considered as earnings for EI benefit purposes until a pension arises from the new pension plan
The pension amount before deductions is allocated to the period for which it is paid or payable, no matter when or how it is paid. How the pension amount will be allocated varies according to whether it is paid on a periodic basis or as a lump sum.
Pension paid on a periodic basis
- Pension amount paid periodically by month for the rest of the person’s life
- Amount can increase or decrease over time
- Amount paid is the amount payable for the specific period, based on 5 days per week from Monday to Friday
- The pension amount payable each month is converted to a weekly amount as follows:
- the monthly amount is multiplied by 12
- the result is divided by 52
- the weekly amount is rounded to the nearest dollar
Example 5: monthly retirement pension
Your employment ends on September 17, 2021 and you are entitled to a monthly retirement pension of $2,000 as of September 22, 2021.
The weekly and daily pension amounts are converted as follows:
- weekly = $2,000 x 12÷ 52 = $461.53 rounded to $462.00, and
- daily = $462.00 ÷ 5 = $92.40
The pension is allocated as follows:
- September 19 to 25, 2021: $92.40 x 3 = $277.20 rounded to $277.00, and
- from the week of September 26, 2021, $462.00 is allocated to each week until the end of the benefit period, unless the pension amount increases or decreases
In this example, because the day on which the pension payment began is a Wednesday, the daily amount of $92.40 is multiplied by 3, for September 22, 23 and 24, 2021.
Pension paid as a lump sum
- Pension amount paid as a lump sum
- Designed to replace monthly pension payments
- For benefit purposes, the lump sum amount is converted to a weekly amount in accordance with table "Weekly annuity equivalents for a lump sum of $1,000 according to age of claimant" (see below). This table indicates the weekly annuity equivalent, based on the person's age, for each $1,000 portion of the lump sum payment
- The weekly earnings value is converted as follows:
- the lump sum amount is divided by 1,000
- the result is multiplied by the weekly annuity equivalent in the table found below
- the weekly earnings amount to allocate is rounded to the nearest dollar
Weekly annuity equivalents for a lump sum of $1,000 according to age of claimant
|Age of claimant||Weekly annuity equivalent|
|19 and under||0,47|
|90 and over||3,87|
Please refer to the tables in the Digest of Entitlement Principles for previous years.
Example 6: lump-sum pension
You worked 23 years for the ABC Company. On July 2, 2021, you retire and a lump-sum pension amount of $93,000 is payable to you as of July 8, 2021. You are 59 years old at the time when the lump-sum payment is payable.
According to the "Weekly annuity equivalents for a lump sum of $1,000 according to age of claimant" table, the weekly annuity equivalent for each $1,000 for a person 59 years old is $0.83.
The weekly and daily pension amounts are converted as follows:
- weekly: $93 000 ÷ 1,000 x $0.83 = $77.19, rounded to $77.00, and
- daily: $77.00 ÷ 5 = $15.40
The pension will be allocated as follows:
- July 4 to 10, 2021: $15.40 x 2 = $30.80 rounded to $31.00, and
- from the week of July 11, 2021: $77.00 is allocated to each week until the end of the benefit period. Since this is based on the conversion of a lump-sum pension, the amount of this pension allocation remains constant for the duration of the benefit period
In this example, because the lump-sum pension is payable on Thursday, July 8, 2021, the daily amount of $15.40 is multiplied by 2, for July 8 and 9, 2021.
Pension income is not considered to be earnings for EI benefit purposes when an individual requalifies for EI benefits after the date on which payment of the pension begins. The following criteria must be met for the pension not to be considered earnings to be deducted from benefits:
- after the date on which the pension became payable, and while receiving your pension, you worked and accumulated the necessary number of insurable hours to establish a claim
- that claim is established using the insurable hours accumulated after the start of the retirement pension
Example 7: weekly retirement pension
You ended work for the ABC Company on February 12, 2021. From that date, you will receive a retirement pension of $369 per week from that employer for the rest of your life. You begin a new job with DEF Company. Between March 8 and August 6, 2021, you accumulate 600 insurable hours with this new employer. On August 8, 2021, you file a claim for regular benefits.
In this example, after the start date of your pension payment, February 13, 2021, you worked for employer DEF and accumulated 600 hours of insurable employment. Your claim is established using the insurable hours accumulated after payment of your pension began. As a result, your pension of $369 from employer ABC is not considered as earnings and will not be deducted from your benefits.
Vacation pay is employment income and is earnings when it is paid or payable. There is, however, an exception when the vacation pay constitutes savings rather than earnings. This is the case when an employer, union or agency acts in trust and the vacation pay is credited to an employee and accumulated in a trust account.
Allocation of vacation pay depends on the reason for which it is paid and not the date upon which the payment is made. Vacation pay can be paid or payable:
- by reason of a lay-off or separation
- for a plant shut down for general vacation
- for a specific vacation period that coincides with other circumstances
- on an anniversary date
- on each pay check
- at the employee’s request
When vacation pay is paid by reason of a lay-off or separation, the amount is normally allocated, based on the normal weekly earnings, to consecutive weeks from the week when the person was laid off or separated from employment. When the amount of the last week of work is less than the normal weekly earnings, the allocation of the vacation pay can start in that week and be added to the earnings for the last week worked to bring them to the normal weekly earnings.
Example 8: vacation pay paid by reason of lay-off or separation
Your employment ends on August 23, 2019 due to a work shortage. On August 26, 2019 you file a claim for regular benefits. Your normal weekly earnings are $500. For your last week worked, you earned $300. Your employer paid you a vacation pay of $756.
Your vacation pay will be allocated as follows:
- August 18 to 24, 2019: $300 salary and $200 vacation pay
- August 25 to 31, 2019: $500 vacation pay
- September 1 to 7, 2019: $56 vacation pay
In this example, a portion of the vacation pay is added to the amount of earnings in the last week worked to bring the earnings in that week to the normal weekly earnings of $500.
When the vacation pay is paid for a specific vacation period, it is allocated solely to that vacation period, based on the normal weekly earnings. The date that the vacation pay was actually paid is not taken into consideration when allocating this vacation pay to a specific vacation period. For instance, when a workplace closes every year for a general vacation period, that period is considered to be the vacation period unless otherwise indicated.
Example 9: vacation pay paid following a plant shutdown for general vacation
On May 17, 2019, your employer paid you a vacation pay of $1,520 due to the plant closing for the general vacation during the period from May 26 to June 8, 2019. Your salary for your last week of work from May 19 to 25, 2019, is $650, also your normal weekly earnings. You returned to work on June 17, 2019.
The vacation pay is allocated as follows:
- May 19 to 25, 2019: $650 salary
- May 26 to June 8, 2019, general vacation period: $1,520 vacation pay
- June 17, 2019: Return to work
In this example, although the vacation pay was paid a week before the plant’s planned shutdown for vacation, it was paid for the general vacation period, as a result, the date on which the vacation pay was paid is not taken into consideration in allocating the vacation pay.
In fact, because the vacation pay is allocated based on normal weekly earnings of $650, to the specific vacation period of May 26 to June 8, 2019, the balance of $220 as vacation pay is ignored, meaning $1,520 - $1,300 = $220, as the amount can only be allocated over the actual specific vacation period.
When the specific vacation period coincides with other circumstances, such as lay-off or separation or an anniversary date, the following 3 criteria must be met in order for the vacation pay to be allocated solely to the specific vacation period:
- the vacation period must have been scheduled by agreement between the employer and employee
- there must be a link between the payment of the vacation pay and the right to a period of time off for a vacation, and
- the individual must be considered an employee during the vacation period. See examples below
Example 10: vacation pay paid for a vacation period that coincides with other circumstances
On April 13, 2019, anniversary date, your employer pays you a vacation pay of $850. You have already agreed with your employer to take your vacation from April 21 to May 4, 2019 and are considered to be employed during the vacation period. Your salary for your last week of work from April 18 to 20, 2019 is $425, also your normal weekly earnings.
Your vacation pay is allocated as follows:
- April 7 to 13, 2019: $425 salary
- April 14 to 20, 2019: $425 salary
- April 21 to 27, 2019, vacation period: $425 vacation pay, and
- April 28 to May 4, 2019, vacation period: $425 vacation pay
In this example, although your employer paid your vacation pay on April 13, 2019, on the anniversary date, it is allocated to your specific vacation period, which you had scheduled with your employer, and you were considered to be an employee during that period.
Example 11: vacation pay paid following a lay-off when a vacation was already planned
During your employment, you agree with your employer to take your vacation from June 2 to 15, 2019. However, on May 10, 2019, you are laid off due to a work shortage and your employer pays you your outstanding vacation pay of $956. Your salary for your last week of work from May 5 to 11, 2019 is $425, also your normal weekly earnings.
Your vacation pay is allocated as follows:
- May 5 to 11, 2019: $425 salary
- May 12 to 18, 2019: $425 vacation pay
- May 19 to 25, 2019: $425 vacation pay, and
- May 26 to June 1, 2019: $106 balance of vacation pay
In this example, you were laid off prior to the expected date of the vacation. Consequently, you are no longer considered an employee during the planned vacation period. The vacation pay is therefore considered to be earnings paid as result of the lay-off.
Vacation pay paid on an anniversary date is allocated based on your normal weekly earnings, from the week of the anniversary date so that the vacation pay earnings in each week are equal to your normal weekly earnings. In allocating these earnings, other earnings, such as salary, are not taken into account.
Example 12: vacation pay paid on anniversary date
Your employer pays the vacation pay on April 30 of each year. On April 30, 2019, you are working full time and have not planned any vacation time when your employer pays you your vacation pay of $1,000. Your normal weekly earnings are $625.
Your vacation pay is allocated as follows:
- April 28 to May 4, 2019: $625 vacation pay and $625 salary, and
- May 5 to 11, 2019: $375 vacation pay and $625 salary
In this example, the only reason for payment of the vacation pay is the anniversary date; consequently, it is allocated from the week of payment. The salary earned is not considered in the allocation of the vacation pay paid under this circumstance.
Example 13: vacation pay paid on each paycheck
You work 40 hours per week at $14 per hour. On each pay, your employer pays you 6.5% of your salary as vacation pay. On August 15, 2019, you are laid off. For your last week of work from August 11 to 17, 2019, you earned $477.12, meaning $448 salary + $29.12 vacation pay. Your normal weekly earnings are $596.40, meaning $560 salary + 36.40 vacation pay. On the record of employment, your employer indicates vacation pay of $36.40, paid each week.
Your vacation pay is allocated as follows:
- August 4 to 10, 2019: $560 salary + $36.40 vacation pay, and
- August 11 to 17, 2019: $448 salary + $29.12 vacation pay
In this example, the vacation pay is allocated over the period in which it was earned.
Example 14: vacation pay paid at the employee’s request
You are working full time, earning $500 per week. Your collective agreement allows you to request your vacation pay without any requirement to take time off for vacation. On July 17, 2019, you ask that your employer pay your vacation pay. On August 9, 2019, your employer pays you a vacation pay of $1,410. You are still working full time.
Your vacation pay is allocated as follows:
- July 14 to 20, 2019, requested your vacation pay: $500 vacation pay and $500 salary
- July 21 to 27, 2019: $500 vacation pay and $500 salary, and
- July 28 to August 3, 2019: $410 vacation pay and $500 salary
In this example, your vacation pay is paid because of your request and not by reason of a lay-off or separation or specific vacation period. As a result, it is allocated from the week in which you requested it as this was the date that the vacation pay became payable, and the date that the payment was actually made is not important. The salary earned is not considered in the allocation of the vacation pay paid under these circumstances.
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