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Can I get EI if I quit my job?
Employment Insurance (EI) rules have changed because of COVID-19. As of August 9, 2020, you require only 120 hours of insurable work to qualify for Special Benefits. And as of September 27, 2020, you require only 120 hours of insurable work to qualify for Regular Benefits the first time you apply.
There is also a new minimum EI payment of $500 per week starting on September 27, 2020. This applies to both Regular Benefits and Special Benefits.
These changes are expected to last for one year. They're part of the system that the government has created to replace the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which ends October 3, 2020. Read more in The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is ending. Will I be able to get Employment Insurance (EI)?
It depends. If you choose to leave your job, you can only get Employment Insurance (EI) if you have just cause for leaving. “Just cause” means that you have no other reasonable choice except to leave your job.
There are many different situations that might give you just cause for leaving your job. Some examples are:
- you experienced sexual or other harassment
- you experienced discrimination
- your working conditions were unsafe
- your employer was not paying you the wages that were legally owed to you
- your employer made major changes to your work duties
Every case is different. When you apply for EI, you will probably have to describe your situation and explain what steps you took to fix the problem before you quit.
You will only have just cause for quitting if you can show that there were no other reasonable steps you could have taken. You are expected to have tried other ways to fix the problem before you quit. For example, if your boss is not paying you on time, you should first try to fix the problem by talking to your boss or someone else in management.
Sometimes your decision to quit may not have been voluntary. For example, you should tell Service Canada staff if your employer threatened or bullied you into quitting when you really did not want to leave your job.
When you quit your job without just cause, you cannot use any of the hours you worked at that job or any previous jobs to qualify for EI, even if you worked there for many years. Before you can qualify for EI, you must work to earn the hours needed. You can work at a different job than the one that you quit.
If you are called back after a layoff but you choose not to return to work, that is also seen as quitting without cause.
Quitting your job without just cause will only affect regular EI benefits. You might still be able to get other EI special benefits like maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care, or critically ill child benefits if you meet the criteria for these benefits.