Quite a few people are unable to work during this pandemic for numerous reasons. If you were exposed to someone who has since tested positive for COVID-19 or you have tested positive, you will need to quarantine for at least 14 days. You will not be able to go to work, shop in person or do anything that puts others at risk for contracting the virus from you. This protocol has been put in place to try and stop the spread of COVID-19; however, it also means you will experience a loss of income for not being able to work. Employment insurance (EI) sickness benefits is a support program that you can apply for but first you need to know if you qualify for.
Regular Benefits vs Sickness Benefits
Regular EI benefits during COVID-19 are for those experiencing a temporary layoff or reduced hours because of the pandemic. These benefits are for those who are not sick or quarantined. This benefit pays for up to 45 weeks. If you believe you qualify for regular EI benefits, look into what your options are during this pandemic.
EI Sickness benefits are only for those who are unable to work because they have COVID-19 or are in quarantine because they’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive. These benefits pay for a maximum of 15 weeks. It is important to keep in mind that these benefits could stop immediately once your quarantine is over if you’re only receiving these benefits because you’re in quarantine. This can happen even if you’re unable to return to work right away.
Who Qualifies for EI Sickness Benefits
By now, you already know that if you are sick with COVID-19 or have been put under a temporary quarantine because of possible COVID-19, you qualify for EI sickness benefits. But there are a few more specific requirements before you are deemed eligible for these benefits.
- Your income must be reduced by at least 40% because of sickness or quarantine.
- You must be employed by a qualified employer. If you’re self-employed, you must be registered with the program
- During the past 52 weeks, you must have worked 600 insurable hours
Normally you do need to provide a medical certificate to prove that you’re unable to work due to an illness or injury. However, because of this pandemic, if you’re applying for EI sickness benefits because of COVID-19, you will not need to provide a medical certificate in order to qualify for the payments.
Flatten the Curve
While our government is providing financial assistance, it’s our responsibility to do our part in order to flatten the curve. The only way to end this pandemic is to follow the restrictions and guidelines to help keep yourself and everyone else safe. Remember to wash your hands regularly, practice social distancing and only go out for essential items.
It’s completely understandable if you’re confused as to which benefit program you should be applying for. Many programs have been revised to accommodate everyone during these uncertain times and continue to change as more support is being put in place. We will do our best to keep you up-to-date with all of the changes and bring clarification to the situation.