Employment insurance has been written about earlier on this blog and it is likely that the Maternal and Parental Benefits offered through the program are known to most people. This post will look at the Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits available through the program.
Employment Insurance (EI) offers Compassionate Care Benefits to people who have to be absent from work temporarily to provide care/support to a severely-ill family member who is deemed as a patient at a high degree of risk (i.e. facing death). Although most provincial and territorial labor codes offer job protection for employees facing such a life situation, it is important to verify with the employer and the provincial/territorial government before applying.
Eligibility. If a person has to leave work to provide care to a family member who is at risk of dying within 26 weeks, then they can receive compassionate care benefits for a maximum of 6 weeks. If the applicant is unemployed and already receiving EI benefits, they can still seek to receive compassionate care benefits. Self-employed Canadians are also eligible to apply for EI compassionate care benefits if they are registered in the EI program. To be eligible, an applicant will have to show evidence that
- Their regular weekly earnings have decreased by >40%; and,
- They have accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the last 52 weeks (or since the start of the last claim if applicable).
Family member. A person can apply for compassionate care benefits for their own family member or those of their spouse or common-law partner; a full list of eligible family members can be found here. In addition, an applicant can also receive benefits to care for a severely-ill person such as a close friend or neighbor, who considers them a family member. In such cases, a signed Compassionate Care Benefits Attestation form is required from the severely-ill person or their legal representative. Also, it is possible for an applicant to share the 6 weeks of compassionate care benefits with other members of the family but each eligible member must apply separately.
Documentation. An applicant would need to provide their SIN, address, employer details and dates of employment for the previous 52 weeks, immigration status and work permit if applicable, information about the seriously-ill family member, medical proof that the family member needs care or support, and complete banking information (for direct deposit).
Payments. If an application meets requirements, the first payment is generally sent within 28 days from the date the application was received. The maximum payment, dependent on the benefit rate and average insurable earnings, in 2015 is $524 per week. It is worth noting that the payments are treated as taxable income. It is important to note that a person will have to serve a two-week unpaid waiting period before collecting benefits. Any income earned during the waiting period will be deducted from future benefits unless the income falls under an exemption category such as sick leave pay.
Have you applied for Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits? If so, did you face any hardship in proving your eligibility or was it a straightforward process? Any insight you can share may be useful to other potential applicants.If you would like to read more articles like this, you can sign up for my free newsletter service below (we will not spam you).