Can You Get Employment Insurance (EI) If You Quit?

| June 28th, 2017 | No Comments »

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
  • Discrimination
  • 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.

Is an Employee Obligated to Provide an Employer ‘Reasonable Notice’ of Resignation?

| November 23rd, 2016 | No Comments »

notice of resignationIt is well known that employers must give an employee ‘reasonable notice’ or pay in lieu upon termination when there is no just cause (i.e. the employee has not done anything wrong to be fired). Conversely, although rarely pursued, an employer has the right to receive ‘reasonable notice’ from an employee planning to resign. Below, the factors for determining ‘reasonable notice’ time for employees will be reviewed with reference to a relatively recent case by the Ontario Supreme Court case [Gagnon v. Jesso ONSC] (referred to as “Jesso”).

Reasonable Notice

For employees, ‘reasonable notice’ is the period of time an employee is required to give their employer before the date they wish to resign. The amount of ‘reasonable notice’ time required from an employee will vary with respect to the importance of the employee’s position and duties. The purpose of ‘reasonable notice’ is to grant the employer enough time to either replace the employee or to adjust in a way that would avoid substantial financial losses. In general, employees with managerial responsibilities are required to provide longer notice periods; however, employees in key non-managerial roles may also be require to provide comparable notice time. Jesso highlighted the relevant factors to consider, which include: the employee’s length of service and the difficulty the employer will face with replacing the employee’s skillset (i.e. the labour market conditions). If applicable, any unique circumstances that would result in the employer needing added time to adjust must also be factored into the notice time.

Jesso Example: 

To illustrate the factors considered in determining “reasonable notice”, consider the example of Jesso v. Gagnon. Gagnon is a heating and cooling company (owned by Pierre Gagnon), and Jesso was a salesperson for nearly 10 years with a mechanical engineering degree. Jesso and his sales partner were responsible for over 60% of the company’s sales, and ultimately, a significant source of Gagnon’s revenue. Jesso eventually resigned after strained relations with his employer. Further, Jesso knew that his sales partner was also planning to resign around the same time, since both were pursuing employment with the same competitor.

Initially, Jesso gave Gagnon 2 weeks of notice but the court ruled that reasonable notice in this case would be 2 months. This is not a trivial amount of notice time. Firstly, Jesso’s length of service with Gagnon did contribute to the 2-month required notice time. The most important factor, however, was his substantial skillset, which is indicated by Jesso’s sales performance. Gagnon could not quickly replace the performance gap that Jesso’s resignation would cause. This was due to Jesso’s skillset in itself, as well as the low availability of comparable employees within this industry – these factors contributed to the length of time Gagnon would need to replace or adjust to Jesso’s resignation. Lastly, there was the issue of Jesso knowing that his sales partner was also resigning near the same time. This was a special circumstance that would add to Gagnon’s difficulty in adjusting to this loss as Jesso and his sales partner contributed to over 60% of Gagnon’s sales.

It is important to understand that the above example is a simplified generalization used to apply the relevant factors for determining reasonable notice for employees. Each case will be influenced by the particulars of the employment relationship and surrounding circumstances. Jesso makes this point clear, as any unique circumstances that may create more difficult for the employer to adjust or replace the employee must be considered. Please seek the advice of an employment law professional if faced with a similar situation.