If an employee voluntarily leaves their employment without reason, this would result in disqualification from EI entitlements. There are certain circumstances, however, that an individual would be able to voluntarily leave their employment without forfeiting their EI eligibility. Under the Employment Insurance Act, there are numerous reasons that allow employees to ‘quit’ without forfeiting their EI eligibility. Each of these reasons is called ‘just cause’, which means that since the employee was justified under the Act in leaving their employment, EI eligibility is not forfeited.
The ‘just causes’ scenarios listed under the Act that allows individuals to retain their EI eligibility include:
- Sexual Harassment
- Moving with a spouse of dependent child
- Work that endangers health or safety
- The need to provide care to an immediate family member
- Assurance of a job in the immediate future
- Negative changes to your salary/wages
- Excessive overtime or an employer refusing to pay for overtime wages
- Major changes to work duties
- Discrimination due to being a member of an association, organization, union, etc.
- Pressure from an employer or employee to leave employment
If quitting is necessary and is linked to one or more of the above ‘just cause’ qualifiers, it is important to support your decision to leave employment with any information possible. It is important to establish that quitting was the only reasonable decision that could have been made given the situation.
Upon applying for EI, an agent will assess the claim of just cause. It is important to have as much information as possible, as an investigation of the employer (if necessary) and the reasons being claimed to support just cause will be evaluated.