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Confused About EI For Self Employed? All Your Questions Answered

employment insurance

The Employment Insurance (EI) program in Canada provides a valuable safety net for workers in Canada. There is, however, a misconception that only salaried employees can enjoy the protections under this scheme.

Simply, self employed individuals can register for EI special benefits as well. It can even be argued that, with greater uncertainties around work, income-replacement that EI provides is more relevant for someone who is self employed.

In this article we explain the EI special benefits scheme for the self employed. Ours is not an exhaustive explanation, so it is advisable that you get in touch with an employment lawyer Toronto to understand the specifics.

What is EI?

Employment Insurance is the program of the Canadian government which provides temporary income support to workers who are out of employment. This can be for reasons such as unemployment, time for study, injury or illness, pregnancy and parental care.

Workers must pay EI premiums and meet certain employment criteria. And this is where the multiple questions arises: can I collect EI if I get fired? Can you get EI for self employed work? As a self employed individual you have access to EI special benefits once you have registered with the program.

How can you register for EI for self employed?

EI for the self employed is a little different. Since income does not accrue through a regular pay stub premiums are not assessed automatically. Instead, you need to enrol yourself as self employed with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission.

You need to show your income tax benefits return for the previous year to register for EI for self employed individuals. Your premiums (and benefits) will be calculated on the basis of these. Interestingly, if you are a salaried employee with some self employed income, you can protect that too.

What benefits does EI provide?

Employment Insurance reflects the respect for workers that is woven into Canada’s social fabric. EI for self employed, in particular, is an essential safety net to protect one from income fluctuations and unexpected events. Here are a few instances when EI can help you with income-replacement:

  • Injury or illness precluding you from work
  • Pregnancy and parental benefits
  • Compassionate care benefits
  • Benefits for agricultural workers
  • Support for lost self employed income even if salaried

Eligibility and conditions

Your income must be greater than the minimum specified to register for EI as a self employed individual. Once you register for EI, you will have to wait 12 months before you are eligible to receive benefits.

EI also does not cover every little dip in your income. You must show more than 40% time away from work for reasons of injury, pregnancy, compassionate care or other accepted reasons.

Reasons for denial

Our experienced employment lawyers Toronto have seen EI claims by self employed individuals denied or disputed for a number of reasons. Problems can arise if you are not clear about your status (employed or self employed) due to the nature of your work. People also bring appeals against CEIC decisions for not having lost sufficient time from work.

It is advisable that you receive advice and representation from an employment lawyer Toronto for appeals to the CEIC and legal action.

Employment Lawyers Toronto

Soni Law Firm is proud of the representation and advocacy we have undertaken. We help our clients through their employment and benefits concerns. The community respects us for our practical advice and client-centric approach. Call us at 647.484.2996 for a free consultation if you have been denied EI benefits.

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About Post Author


Rahul founded Soni Law Firm, a boutique employment, labour, and human rights law firm, with the goal of taking his Downtown Toronto litigation experience and making it accessible to Ontario’s Main Street employees and employers.