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Revised March, 2015

Employment Insurance and BCTF Members

Employment—Maternity—Parental—Sickness—Compassionate Care—Retirement

The Employment Insurance Act and Regulations are long and complex. The following is a brief summary only. If you think you have any claim for benefits, you should apply to the nearest Service Canada office, contact your local association, or contact the BCTF (Income Security Department).

The Employment Insurance Act and Regulations govern in the event of any variation between this summary and the Act.



  • Interruption of earnings, i.e., no work or pay for seven or more consecutive days.
  • 420 to 700 hours of insurable employment in the qualifying period depending upon regional rate of unemployment. 
  • Unemployment because of lay-off, lack of work for TTOCs (e.g. Spring Break), or maternity, parental, sickness or compassionate care leave.
  • Available for and actively seeking work.
  • Severance pay, vacation pay, and retirement incentives will be divided by your normal weekly earnings and allocated forward from the time you leave employment, thereby delaying the start of your claim.


  • Teachers who quit, are on leave of absence, are dismissed by reason of misconduct or retire, will likely be disqualified from El benefits.
  • Teachers-on-Call can file a claim immediately following termination of employment.
  • Teachers on continuing contract are not eligible for regular EI benefits during July and August.
  • Teachers whose contracts terminate on June 30, including those on temporary contracts, can file a claim effective July 1 for regular El benefits during the summer. The acceptance of a new contract for the next school year does affect eligibility for regular El benefits--El will not pay benefits after the effective date of the acceptance of a new appointment.
  • Self-funded leave periods are not periods of unemployment.


  • Interruption of earnings, i.e., a reduction of more than 40% in normal weekly earnings.
  • 600 hours of insurable employment in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim (the qualifying period).
  • Pregnant for maternity benefits.
  • Caring for your child, whether natural or adopted, for parental benefits.
  • Medical evidence of illness or injury for sickness benefits.

Compassionate Care

  • A decrease of more than 40% of regular weekly earnings.
  • 600 hours of insurable employment in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim (the qualifying period).
  • Must apply for benefits.
  • A medical certificate must be provided as proof that the ill family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks (6 months) and requires the care or support of one or more family members.
  • Can be shared with other family members who meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Care or support means:
    • providing psychological or emotional support; or
    • arranging for care by a third party care provider; or
    • directly providing or participating in the care.
  • Benefits paid to care or support one of the following family members:
    • your child or the child of your spouse or common-law partner;
    • your wife/husband or common-law partner;
    • your mother or father;
    • your father's wife/mother's husband; or
    • the common-law partner of your father/mother. 


  • If the interruption of earnings was due to unemployment and you became ill after being unemployed, you may qualify for sickness benefits with less than 600 hours of insurable employment.
  • Either parent may apply for parental benefits.


  • The shorter of the period of 52 weeks immediately proceeding a claim for benefits or the period between beginning of proceeding claim and start of new claim.
  • Period can be extended by up to a further 52 weeks if not in insurable employment because of illness, quarantine or pregnancy, or in receipt of Workers' Compensation Board payments, confinement in jail or attendance at HRDC sponsored course of instruction, i.e., the qualifying period cannot exceed 104 weeks.
  • If in receipt of severance pay or retirement incentives, the qualifying period will be extended by the same number of weeks represented by the amount of the severance or incentive, to a maximum of 52 weeks; i.e., the qualifying period cannot exceed 104 weeks.


  • Employment with an employer.
  • An hourly system as of January 1, 1997; every hour worked is insurable. For teachers on contract, there is an agreement between the BCTF and BCPSEA that each full time teacher earns 9.1 hours per day or 45.5 hours per week of insurable earnings. Part-time teachers accrue service prorated by the amount of their assignment. Teachers on call also accrue 9.1 hours for each full day worked or a proportional amount for part days.
  • The period of time over which severance pay, vacation pay and retirement incentives is allocated as earnings for the purpose of determining when your claim may start (see section on Eligibility) is not insurable employment.


  • As of January 1, 2015, the maximum insurable earnings amount is $49,500. This means that you can receive a maximum amount of $524per week.


  • Generally, the first two weeks following interruption of earnings starting with the first Sunday.


  • For sickness benefits the waiting period is waived if you receive any paid sick leave prior to your claim.


  • Fifty-five per cent of average gross insurable earnings of the 14-22 best weeks of insurable employment ($524 per week maximum or if you have fewer than 26 weeks of insurable employment, the average over the El divisor (usually greater than the # of weeks of insurable employment).
  • If you earn less than the maximum earnings in any of these weeks, this lesser amount will be used in the average.


  • Maximum insurable earnings and benefits may be adjusted annually.
  • EI benefits are taxable. An insurable week is 45.5 hours of insurable employment.



  • Up to 45 weeks depending upon weeks of insurable employment in the qualifying period and regional rate of unemployment.
  • A benefit period which is interrupted by receipt of separation or retirement payments may be extended by the same number of weeks represented by these payments to a maximum of 52 weeks.
  • You may ask Service Canada, during busy TOC periods, to suspend your EI claim and then re-activate it for the slow work periods. While your claim is suspended you will be able to “work off claim” and not have to report your work and earnings bi-weekly. That will help you lengthen your benefit period so you can cover the winter break and spring break with the same EI claim.


  • Up to 15 weeks beginning no earlier than 8 weeks prior to the earlier of expected week of confinement, or no later than the week of confinement and ending 17 weeks after actual week of confinement.


  • Benefits are payable during the summer months.
  • The sum of maternity, parental, or sickness benefits cannot exceed 50 weeks, except for birth mothers who may be eligible for a total of up to 65 weeks.


  • Up to 35 weeks from date of arrival of child in home and ending 52 weeks later.
  • May be taken by either parent or shared between them.
  • Extended 5 weeks if child is ill and more than 6 months old when arriving at home.


  • Benefit may be divided between two parents if both are eligible.
  • The sum of parental, maternity, and sickness benefits cannot exceed 50 weeks in a 52-week benefit period.
  • Regular EI benefits may be available after expiry of parental benefits.


  • Up to 15 weeks.

Compassionate Care

  • Up to a maximum of 6 weeks of benefits within the period of the 26 weeks that start from the Sunday of the week stated on the doctor's certificate indicating a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death.


  • No employment insurance benefit is payable if receiving BCTF Salary Indemnity Plan benefits or salary continuance benefits.
  • The sum of sickness, maternity, or parental benefits cannot exceed 50 weeks in a 52-week benefit period except for birth mothers who may be eligible for a total of up to 65 weeks..
  • Regular EI benefits may be available after expiry of sickness benefits if you are able to work. If eligible, apply at least two weeks prior to the expiry of SIP/Salary continuance benefits.


The employment insurance "week" is always counted from the Sunday of the week immediately following the interruption of earnings or the initial claim for benefits is made, and any income (e.g., salary, sick leave pay or SIP) received for any day or days of that week is subtracted from the employment insurance benefit for that week.


  • Monies received as severance pay, vacation pay or separation money when the job ended may affect the start date of benefits. Apply for EI after becoming unemployed.
  • Persons receiving employment benefits can earn up to 25% of their benefits (or $50, whichever is greater) without having any deductions from their benefits. Any amounts earned in excess of 25% will be deducted from the weekly benefit.
  • Earnings in the waiting period, except paid sick leave or Supplemental Employment Benefit plan benefits, are deducted from the first three weeks of benefits.
  • Teachers' Pension Plan payments are not considered earnings if your EI claim is based on insurable weeks from employment subsequent to retirement.
  • Temporary WCB payments are considered earnings.
  • Under the new Working While on Claim pilot project, you will be able to keep 50 cents of your EI benefits for every dollar you earn, up to 90% of the weekly insurable earnings that Service Canada used to calculate your EI benefit amount. This 90% amount is called the earnings threshold. If you earn any money above this threshold, Service Canada will deduct it dollar for dollar from your benefits.

    The new pilot project begins on August 5, 2012, and runs until August 1, 2016.


  • Teachers Teaching-on-call who have established an EI claim and who are working from time to time will be subject to the foregoing clause (earnings while receiving benefits.)
  • A new benefit period to commence at the termination of the present benefit period may be established provided you accumulate a further 420 to 700 hours of insurable employment.


  • Whatever the type of benefits you receive, EI payments are taxable income, meaning federal and provincial or territorial taxes, where applicable, are deducted when you receive them. However, you may owe additional taxes if Service Canada has not deducted enough tax at source.

    At the time you file your income tax return, depending on your net income and if you were paid regular benefits, including regular fishing benefits, you may be required to repay some of the EI benefits you received. If your 2015 net income from all sources exceeds $61,875 you will be required to repay 30% of the lesser of:

    • your net income in excess of $61,875; or
    • the total regular benefits, including regular fishing benefits, paid in the taxation year.


  • For sickness benefits, request a "Record of Employment" from the school board at least two weeks prior to the expiration of paid sick leave.
  • For all other benefits, request a "Record of Employment" within five days of the last day worked. Usually this is electronically submitted.
  • Check to make sure the certificate is correct; i.e., the number of insurable weeks, the amount of insurable earnings, the correct reason for ending your employment. If you find an error, go to your school board and insist on an amended one. The board is obligated to give it if the facts on the original are incorrect. Check with the BCTF if you think this is incorrect.
  • Apply to the nearest Service Canada office for benefits. If the "Record of Employment (ROE)" is not available immediately, it can be submitted later.
  • If you have received severance pay, vacation pay or a retirement incentive, contact El immediately so that EI can determine whether these payments are to be included as earnings and if so, the number of weeks you must wait before your claim can start.
  • After the required number of weeks, you should apply for El benefits and meet all the normal requirements of El at that time.
  • If you are in receipt of pension income and wish to apply for EI benefits, the EI office will advise you if any El benefits are payable.


If your application for benefits is denied:

  • You have the right to appeal any decision of an insurance officer. Appeals must be within 30 days of being disqualified or disentitled.
  • Detailed information on appeals is available at: http://www.ei.gc.ca/eng/home.shtml
  • If you want advice on the advisability of appealing, contact the BCTF.


  • Apply for employment insurance benefits as soon as you become unemployed, i.e., without a teaching contract. The waiting period is generally the first 2 weeks of your claim. A delay in applying means a delay in obtaining your benefits. (See Duration of Benefits)
  • In order to stay on claim, you must be available for work and actively seeking work. This means you must be willing and able to work and actively seeking employment through canvassing employers on an almost daily basis even though the chances of finding employment may be slim.
  • Keep a detailed record of the employers whom you visit looking for work, and the dates on which you visited them.
  • If you have young children under your care, make arrangements for their care during working hours so that you will be able to accept a job when you find one.
  • Arrange for transportation to and from prospective jobs.
  • If you are interviewed, request a copy of the interview form prepared by the El officer before you leave the El office and check it for accuracy.


  • Do not restrict your search for work to one small local area. Do not restrict your search to teaching.
  • Do not restrict the hours of work which you will accept.
  • Do not allow your search for work to become too narrow. You should be prepared to accept any work which is suitable and you are able to perform, especially after a few weeks of unemployment.
  • Do not confine yourself to one method of job search. Use telephone calls, answer newspaper ads, contact personnel offices and solicit friends.
  • You may be required to submit to an interview to find out whether you are available for and looking for work. You are not required to sign any statement.
  • Do not sign any statement presented by a EI interviewer unless you understand and agree with everything it says. Do not be led into making any statements which indicate you are placing restrictions on your chances of obtaining employment.


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