E.I. and Covid-19 Layoffs - 5 Tips for Workers and Businesses

 *This blog post is current to 8:00 AM on March 17, 2020. Forte Law is offering virtual legal services, including zoom video meetings or telephone consultations, so you can get legal advice from your home or office. *

As many workers and businesses are facing the idea of layoffs for the very first time, understanding the basics of Employment Insurance (E.I.) can be helpful.

Employees may be eligible for Employment Insurance (“E.I.”) benefits if they meet the following:

  1. They have experienced an IOE. An Interruption of Earnings or IOE is where an employee has had 7-straight days of no work and no pay with an employer.
  2. They have worked at least 700* hours in the last 52 weeks (about 5-straight months of full-time work)

*This is the amount needed in Metro-Vancouver. For other regions please check here.

As we each do our part to flatten the curve, we offer employees and employers the following 5 tips to help each other navigate through these difficult times.



  1. If you have experienced an IOE or believe you will, apply for EI ASAP.

It takes time for your EI claim to be processed. You can apply even if you don’t have your ROE, click on this link, scroll down to the very end and click "apply online". There will be a huge demand for EI, so get your application in early.

That said, if your hours are reduced or you have been out of work for less than 7 days, you should think twice before applying, since you have not met the qualifying conditions and may not be eligible for E.I.

  1. Create a MyServiceCanada account

You can create your MyServiceCanada account once you have submitted your application and received your 4-digit access code in the mail. MyServiceCanada account lets you see your ROE, the status of your claim, how much EI you get paid, and how long you can get paid.

  1. Stay on top of your EI Reports

You must continue to complete your EI Reports in order to get paid. You can complete them online

  1. Look for work while you are collecting EI

You have a legal requirement to do so if you wish to continue collecting E.I.

  1. You are allowed to work part-time and still be paid E.I. in some circumstances

See explanation here.



  1. ROEs can only be issued after an IOE

If you are laying off an employee because of a temporary closure, the employee will need to have gone through 7 days without work or pay before you can issue the employee an ROE. ROEs that are issued before an interruption of earnings has occurred may require verification from an E.I. Agent and can delay an employee’s E.I.

  1. Consider issuing web ROEs

This is a stressful time for your employee to be out of a job and the last thing they want is to have their EI delayed because of a missing ROE - submit the ROE online - that way everyone (the employee, yourself, and Service Canada gets a copy).

  1. Complete the ROE correctly

If you are laying off employees, complete Block 16 with code "A" and check off either “unknown” or a specific date in Block 14. Make sure you don't check off "not returning" as this can be seen as a termination of employment.

  1. Issue the ROE on time

You have 5 days after the employee experiences an “interruption of earnings” to issue an ROE, so this means you would issue them between 7 and 12 days after the layoffs.

  1. Consider offering some work for employees who are a few hours short of the insurable hours minimum

At present, the law is clear: if an employee does not have enough hours, they will not get E.I. even if they are one hour short. While employers are under no obligation to do so, offering an employee a few more hours of work so that they have enough insurable hours to qualify for EI can go a long way in helping out an employee. Generally speaking, a happy employee is less inclined to sue their employer.


This blog is not intended to serve as legal advice, and only provides general information. Every situation must be considered on its own facts.

Need legal advice? Contact us by phone at 604 535-7063 or email [email protected].

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