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.

COVID-19 information: 

Covid-19: Can I get EI Sick Benefits? 



David Brannen
Founder & Managing Lawyer, Resolute Legal
As Resolute Legal's managing lawyer, David spends his days representing people with disability claims and overseeing other disability lawyers within the firm. David is among the few lawyers in Canada who focus exclusively on disability-related claims. David is the author of A Beginner's Guide to Disability Insurance Claims in Canada and The Beginner's Guide to CPP Disability.




 Click on the sections of the table of contents to jump directly there.


Table of Contents

  1. What are EI sick benefits?
  2. Requirements for EI sick benefits
  3. EI sick benefits calculator
  4. How to apply for EI sick benefits
  5. Appealing a denial of EI sick benefits
  6. After approval of EI sick benefits
  7. EI sick benefits forms
  8. EI sick benefits: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
  9. Final Thoughts

What are EI sick benefits?


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.

Requirements for EI sick benefits


To be eligible to get EI sickness benefits, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You are employed
  • Your weekly employment income has been reduced by more than forty percent
  • You have accumulated 600 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period
  • You meet the medical requirements.

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.

EI sick benefits calculator


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.

How Service Canada calculates your benefit amount

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.

Family Supplement

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).

How to apply for EI sick benefits


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:

  • A form that you fill out 
  • A medical certificate signed by your doctor, which confirms how long you will be unable to work due to illness or injury
  • A Record of Employment (ROE) from each employer


To apply for EI sickness benefits you will need the following information:

  • Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Your mother’s maiden name
  • Your mailing address
  • Your complete banking information
  • Names and addresses of all employers you have worked for in the last 52 weeks
  • Dates of employment with each employer over the last 52 weeks
  • Reasons for leaving each of the employers.

Click here to apply online through the Service Canada website.

Appealing a denial of EI sick benefits


You have the right to appeal any decision regarding your EI sickness benefits. There are three levels of appeal:

  1. Service Canada Reconsideration Appeal
  2. Social Security Tribunal (General Division)
  3. Social Security Tribunal (Appeal Division)

Reconsideration 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.

Social Security Tribunal (General Division)

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. 

Social Security Tribunal (Appeal Division)

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. 

After approval of EI sick benefits

If you are approved for EI sickness benefits, your payments will usually start within 28 days of the date they received your completed application.

Bi-Weeky Reports

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:

  • if you started a full-time job
  • if you traveled outside of Canada
  • if you worked or received earnings, including self-employment earnings
  • if you attended school or a training course
  • if you were ready, willing, and capable of working each day
  • if you received or will receive money other than that which you have already reported.

Payment of Benefits

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. 

EI sick benefits forms

EI sick benefits: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the approval process for EI sick benefits?

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 sick benefits and short-term disability

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.

Are EI sick benefits taxable?

Yes, EI sickness benefits are taxable. Both federal and provincial income taxes are deducted from your payments. 

How long is the EI sick benefits waiting period?

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.

Can I work while on EI sick benefits?

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.

How long can I collect EI sick benefits?

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. 

What type of income can be deducted from EI sick payments?

The following income will be deducted from your EI sickness payments:

  • employment income (including self-employment)
  • workers compensation payments made for lost wages
  • short- or long-term disability payments
  • motor vehicle accident payments for lost income
  • retirement income from private or public pension plans.

What type of income is not deducted from EI sick payments?

They following sources of income are not deductible from EI sickness payments:

  • CPP disability payments
  • survivor or dependent benefits
  • workers compensation payments not related to wage loss
  • payments for pain and suffering
  • sickness payments from supplemental unemployment plans
  • sickness or loss of income payments under a private insurance policy
  • retroactive increases in your salary. 

Final Thoughts

If you are considering taking sick leave, we recommend you also download our Sick Leave Guide: How to Avoid the 4 Most Common Mistakes.