I am caring for a child who is very sick. Can I get EI?Updated December 21
Question & AnswerI am caring for a child who is very sick. Can I get EI?
Employment Insurance (EI) rules have changed because of COVID-19. As of September 26, 2021, if you're applying for special EI benefits like the family caregiver benefit for children, you only need 420 hours of insurable work. This new rule will last until at least September 24, 2022.
There are 3 types of EI benefits for people who need time of work to care for someone who is seriously ill:
- compassionate care benefits
- family caregiver benefit for adults
- family caregiver benefit for children
If you are eligible for more than one of these benefits, you might be able to receive benefits for a longer period of time while you are off work.
Family caregiver benefit for children
Up to 35 weeks of benefits are available to someone who needs time off work to care for a critically ill child.
A critically ill child is a person who is under 18 years old and has a life-threatening illness or injury that requires ongoing care or support from at least one caregiver. The illness or injury must be a significant change to the child's normal health. It cannot be a chronic illness or injury that the child normally experiences.
You can only collect these benefits if you are the critically ill child's parent or someone who is considered to be like family to the child. You do not have to be:
- an immediate family member
- a blood relative
- a relative by marriage or common- law partnership, or
- have a legal parent-child relationship.
More than one caregiver can share the 35 weeks of benefits. Each family member must apply for and be eligible for these benefits. Caregivers can even collect benefits at the same time.
If caregivers want to share the benefits, you should discuss how much time each person will take. It is a good idea to make a schedule of who will be taking time off and when.
You have up to 52 weeks to collect all of the benefits. This means you don't have to care for the child for 35 weeks straight to qualify.
If you are sharing the benefits, this 52-week period is the same for everyone collecting benefits. The start date is based on the first parent to file a medical certificate and qualify for benefits.
If the child's illness gets worse and there is a significant risk of them dying, you can think about applying for compassionate care benefits. You might be able to switch from the family caregiver benefit for children and start collecting the compassionate care benefits.
Before you apply for benefits, you should ask your employer if your job will be protected while you are on leave. It's best to tell your employer in writing that you are taking leave and when. This information will help your employer to organize the workload while you're gone and to decide if they can hold your job for you for that time.