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Employment Insurance information and lay-offs related to coronavirus disease

Dernière mise à jour par Nicolas Dufour - 19 March 2020

Employment Insurance information and lay-offs related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19 is an acronym for corona virus disease 2019)

Every day, our respective governments inform us of new measures. Preventive measures to counter the spread or support measures to employees or businesses.

In any case, with the closure obligations that have been set out since last Friday, our sector is particularly affected and layoffs are already underway by several employers.

Whether it’s temporary (less than 6 months) or 6 months or more or permanent (termination), this week will certainly be one of the top weeks in confirming—unfortunately—this kind of decision.

It is important to understand that the situation related to coronavirus disease does not differ from any other situation that requires an employer to “cut” its workforce. And in reality, it is neither the disease nor the pandemic that leads to these decisions, but the resulting lack of work as one of the main consequences. This can be described as an economic reason.

That is why, as we indicated last Friday, you will have to complete and submit an online Record of Employment for each of your employees. The reason will be ‘Lack of work’; code A.

According to the Labour Standards Act, the provisions resulting from this type of decision, in all cases of 6 months or more, apply:

1. Notice of termination or lay-off (“notice”);
2. Notice of Collective Termination.

Each of the two sets out a time limit for providing this notice to employees, except in the case of layoffs of less than 6 months, depending on the length of continuous service or the total number of employees in the company. We know that the Quebec Ministry of Labour is studying these issues and intends to inform employers as soon as possible. In the meantime, we must come to the conclusion that this law of public policy applies as stipulated.

With respect to employment insurance and the record of employment, the federal government has announced its plan of more than $1 billion to deal with the economic impact of the spread of coronavirus disease.
Our Prime Minister, the Honourable Justin Trudeau, stated on March 11 that this funding “also applies to Canadians who cannot show up for work because of the coronavirus epidemic. The federal plan is to eliminate the mandatory waiting week for EI benefits. In other words, they will be able to receive money on the first day of their “unemployment”.”

It is important to distinguish between regular employment insurance and sickness insurance. Any case of illness must be supported by a medical note or certificate and cases of coronavirus infection are no exception, whether it is quarantine or any other prescription. Federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said after the fact that those who qualify for EI benefits will be able to receive payments if they suffer from COVID-19 or isolated themselves in quarantine with the advice of a health professional.

As a result, regular EI is available to all Canadian workers when the employer terminates due to lack of work.
And since the end of 2018, the wait time is no longer 2 weeks, but only one. It is clearly stipulated on the site :

Before receiving employment insurance benefits, there will be a week during which you will not be paid. This is called the “waiting period”, which is also called the “waiting period”.
Employment Insurance provides regular benefits to people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own (for example, due to lack of work, seasonal work or massive layoffs) who are available to work and who are willing to work, but cannot find work.

We cannot give you an exact amount without processing your request. For most people, the basic benefit rate is 55% of the average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum amount. Effective January 1, 2020, the maximum annual insurable earnings are $54,200. This means you can receive up to $573 per week.
How long can you receive benefits?

You can receive regular benefits for a period of 14 to 45 weeks. The number of weeks you may receive benefits depends on the unemployment rate in your area and the number of insurable hours you have accumulated during your qualifying period, which generally corresponds to the last 52 weeks before the start date of your application.
In the regions of Canada where unemployment rates are highest, the calculation will be based on the best 14 weeks; in the regions where unemployment is lowest, we will use the best 22 weeks. In other regions, the number of weeks used to calculate benefits will be between 14 and 22, depending on the unemployment rate in those regions.

If we determine that your net family income is $25,921 or less per year, that you have children and that you or your spouse is receiving the Canada child benefit, you are considered a member of a low-income family. So you can qualify for the EI family income supplement.
The family income supplement is calculated based on:
• your net family income, which must not exceed $25,921 per year;
• the number and age of children in your family.

The family income supplement can increase your benefit rate, up to 80% of your average insurable earnings. If you and your spouse claim EI benefits at the same time, only one of you can receive the family income supplement. It is generally more advantageous for the supplement to be paid to the spouse with the lowest benefit.
As some have already mentioned, it is possible to consider the “work-sharing” method, which allows you to keep your resources. However, there is also the option to provide access to regular EI (for 55% of average weekly insurable earnings) where the new rule, which has been in effect since August 12, 2018, states that an employee who is compensated by the A-E and who earns money while receiving regular EI benefits can keep 50 cents of his benefits for every dollar he earns, up to 90% of his previous weekly earnings (about four and a half days of work). Beyond that ceiling, employment insurance benefits are deducted dollar for dollar.
An employee will not be eligible for EI benefits if he or she works a full week, regardless of how much he or she earns. However, this will not reduce the total number of weeks payable under the original application.
Let’s hope that our authorities will consider the direct consequences as the lack of work in our institutions akin to the notion of “Force Majeure”, which comes to “regulate” the application of certain sections of the NLT.
In closing, the measures announced today by the Minister of Labour, while relevant, are only for those who need to isolate themselves or who have symptoms, but not to workers who suffer the economic impacts of reduced activities or business closures.
As announced by our Prime Minister, more measures are coming.

We remain available to answer your questions and do not hesitate to inform us of your specific situations and cases.

Xavier Gret
Président-Directeur général
Association Hôtellerie Québec

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