The perfect resource for people looking to learn more about EI sick benefits or sick leave.
The Ultimate Guide to EI Sickness Benefits is full of insights and answers for people who need to manage their own claim for EI sick benefits — from the initial application to appealing a denial.
I wrote this guide to give you a comprehensive overview of EI sick benefits and EI sick leave. I cover all the main topics, so you can easily scan to find the information you need. I include links to more specific articles and content in case you want to take a deeper dive into any topic.
Click on the sections of the table of contents to jump directly there.
EI sickness benefits are a type of temporary income replacement benefit paid to people who are unable to work because of injury or illness. EI sickness benefits are paid by the federal government through the Employment Insurance program.
To qualify for EI sickness payments, your income must be reduced by at least forty percent because of your illness or disability; you must be employed by a qualified employer; and you must have already earned 600 hours of insurable employment.
If approved, the payment amount is normally 55 percent of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum of $573 per week in 2020. You can receive EI sickness payments for up to fifteen weeks.
To be eligible to get EI sickness benefits, you must meet the following criteria:
The qualifying period is whichever of these is shorter: either the 52-week period leading up to the date of your EI sickness claim, or the time since you last made a claim for EI payments.
You won't know exactly how much you will get until Service Canada processes your application for EI sickness benefits. Generally speaking, it will be 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount.
Currently, the maximum EI sickness payment is $562 per week and is based on an income of $53,100 or more. These are based on 2019 rates and are subject to change each year as they are adjusted for inflation.
You may be entitled to a higher benefit amount — called the family supplement — if you have children and your net family income is below $25,921.
When determining your average insurable weekly earnings, Service Canada will look at your “best weeks” during the 52 weeks leading up to your last day worked. These will be your highest-earning 14 to 22 weeks, depending on the unemployment rates of your region in Canada.
Your best weeks are the ones where you earned the most money. This includes tips, gratuities and commissions.
There is a one-week waiting period before benefits start. This simply means you aren’t paid for the first week you are off sick. Payments would start at the beginning of week two. This waiting period can be waived if you receive sick pay for that week, or benefits from another source.
Your EI sickness payment may be higher if you qualify for the family supplement. To qualify for the family supplement, your net family income must be below $25,921 (2019); you must have a dependent child; and you or your spouse must be receiving the Child Tax Benefit. The family supplement cannot increase your payment higher than the maximum weekly payment, which is $562 (2019).
You can apply for EI sickness Benefits online at home, or by using a public computer at your local Service Canada office. The application is made up of three parts:
To apply for EI sickness benefits you will need the following information:
You have the right to appeal any decision regarding your EI sickness benefits. There are three levels of appeal:
If your application for EI sickness benefits is denied, you have the right to request a reconsideration appeal. You have a 30-day deadline to request a reconsideration appeal. You request the appeal by submitting a “Request for Reconsideration of an Employment Insurance (EI) Decision” form either online or in person at any Service Canada centre.
If Service Canada denies your reconsideration appeal, then you have the right to appeal that decision to the Social Security Tribunal (General Division). You do this by filing a “Notice of Appeal - Employment Insurance - General Division” form.
If the Social Security Tribunal (General Division) denies your appeal, then you can appeal to the Social Security Tribunal (Appeals Division). You do this by filing an “Application to the Appeal Division - Employment Insurance” form.
If you are approved for EI sickness benefits, your payments will usually start within 28 days of the date they received your completed application.
After you approved for EI sickness benefits, you are required to submit reports to Service Canada every two weeks. You submit these reports online using a 4-digit code (given to you by Service Canada), or by calling the EI Telephone Reporting Service at 1-800-531-7555.
Do not submit your report before the due date or it will not count.
When doing a report, you will have to update Service Canada on the following information:
You can receive EI payments by direct deposit into your bank account or by a cheque in the mail. Direct deposit is the best option because it eliminates the risk that your payments will be disrupted either by getting lost in the mail or work stoppages by Canada Post — we have seen both happen.
There is no paper form for the EI sickness benefits application. You must apply online using your own computer or the public computers at any Service Canada office.
However, there are other forms you can download and fill out for certain situations:
If your claim is approved, you should receive your first payment within 28 days from the date Service Canada received all your application forms and information.
EI sickness payments are a type of disability income of last resort. This means you can’t receive EI sickness payment if you are already receiving disability income from your employer or through a disability insurance policy or plan. If you receive EI sickness benefits and are later approved for retroactive short-term disability insurance payments, then you will need to reimburse the EI sickness program out of those retroactive funds.
Yes, EI sickness benefits are taxable. Both federal and provincial income taxes are deducted from your payments.
There is a one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits. You won't receive benefits for the first week you are on sick leave. You should still apply for benefits immediately — you don't have to wait a week to apply.
Yes, you can earn some income while receiving EI sickness benefits — as long as you report it to Service Canada. You can keep 50 cents of every dollar you earn, up to the point where you are earning 90% of the weekly insurable earnings used to calculate your EI sickness benefit. Once you reach 90%, Service Canada will start deducting your income dollar-for-dollar.
You can collect EI sickness benefits for a maximum of 15 weeks. If you have received the full 15 weeks, you cannot extend sickness benefits any longer and might want to consider applying for other benefits if you are still unable to work.
The following income will be deducted from your EI sickness payments:
They following sources of income are not deductible from EI sickness payments:
If you are considering taking sick leave, we recommend you also download our Sick Leave Guide: How to Avoid the 4 Most Common Mistakes.