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Coronavirus Knowledge Center

Coronavirus Q&A

Toronto employment lawyers answer your questions on worker’s rights during COVID-19 pandemic

I have more than one job. If I am laid off from one of them but not the other, am I eligible for EI?
You may apply for EI with respect to your loss of earnings for the job where you were laid off. However, you will only be able to keep 50 cents of your EI benefits for every dollar you earn at your remaining job, up to 90% of the weekly insurance earnings used to calculate your EI benefit amount. If you earn any money above the 90 percent threshold, Service Canada will deduct dollar for dollar from your benefits. For example, if you work at a grocery store and a restaurant, and are laid off from the restaurant, you can apply for EI as you have temporarily lost your job at the restaurant. Once the seven-day waiting period passes, you should begin to receive EI benefits. If your weekly earnings at the restaurant were $500, your weekly EI benefit rate is $275 (55% of $500). If you earn $300 per week at the grocery store, your $275 in EI benefits will be reduced by $150 (or 50 cents for each dollar you earned at the grocery store). Your total EI benefit will be $125. Therefore, your take-home pay will be $300 in wages from the grocery store, plus $125 per week in EI benefits. If you earn over $450 at the grocery store, EI will deduct a dollar from your benefits for each dollar you earn above $450.
I was expecting to go on maternity leave and receive EI parental benefits in a few months, but now I’ve been laid off because of COVID. Should I apply for EI regular benefits now, EI Maternity Benefits later, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), or any combination of those?
If your employer tops up EI, that may make EI a more attractive option. Workers cannot collect both the CERB and EI benefits for the same period. Therefore, the best option is going to depend on some tricky arithmetic. In general, the CERB will help employees who don’t qualify for EI. Or it will help employees for whom 55% of their weekly wages is less than $500 (because then the CERB’s weekly $500 will provide more compensation than the EI amount). But, one also has to consider the amount of the top-up, if any, received from the employer for EI benefits (which may not apply to CERB payments). And, one may also need to factor in the implications of combing EI regular benefits and parental benefits in the same benefits period, possibly reducing the overall number of weeks a person can receive benefits. As far as we can tell, receipt of the CERB won’t count against any of the maximum EI entitlements.
I signed a contract to be a camp counsellor this summer. If the camp does not run and I’m unemployed am I eligible for any government assistance? Do I have any recourse against the camp?
Canada has recently announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit which is available to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020. The camp is contractually bound by any contract it formed with you. In normal circumstances, if the camp reneged on the deal, this could be a breach of contract. If it was a fixed-term contract for the summer, you could claim the lost wages you would have earned during the duration of the contract. However, if the camp closure is forced because of COVID-related circumstances, the camp may be able to argue the contract was “frustrated” by unforeseen circumstances. This could absolve the camp of any liability under the contract.
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Disclaimer:

This webpage contains general legal information only. It does not contain legal advice. There may be considerations about your personal situation which make the information on this website inapplicable to you. If you need specific legal advice or representation for your particular circumstances, you should consider contacting our firm. Thereafter, the terms of any legal representation can be discussed.  The COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented occurrence.  The legal landscape engaged by these circumstances is changing constantly.  The information on this page attempts to synthesize and summarize new information as it comes available, but this overview may omit nuanced details that could be relevant to a person’s particular situation.  It is provided for reference purposes only.  It should not be relied upon as legal advice.