Employment Insurance (EI) and voluntarily leaving

You are quitting your job

What you should know

You are thinking of quitting your job. Did you know that if you voluntarily quit your job without just cause, you will not be paid regular benefits. After quitting your job, you must work the minimum number of insurable hours required to get regular benefits.

However, you may still be paid maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits as long as you qualify for these benefits.

What voluntarily leaving" means

"Voluntarily leaving" means that the employee took the initiative and not the employer to end the employment. Voluntarily leaving is considered without just cause when you do not take every reasonable alternative available to you to avoid unemployment.

To be paid regular benefits you must show that quitting your job was the only reasonable alternative in your case, considering all the circumstances. In other words, you took all the necessary steps to avoid being unemployed.

You think the only reasonable alternative for you is to quit your job

You may have an excellent reason for quitting your job but this does not mean that you are justified to do so. Before making the decision to quit your job, you should always analyse the situation and use the measures or reasonable alternatives at your disposal to resolve the problem. If you quit your job without using the measures or reasonable alternatives available to you, you will need to explain the reasons for not using these measures or reasonable alternatives.

For example, when the circumstances are related to your work environment, reasonable alternatives could include the following measures:

  • discuss the situation with your employer, the union and request repairs or adjustments;
  • use recourses available under your collective agreement or your employment contract;
  • anticipate the possibility of transferring to other duties or another division or to work under someone else's supervision;
  • use the legislation Acts or Regulations under:

When the reason for voluntarily leaving is not the result of a deliberate personal choice, but of events that suddenly occur, it is expected that you use all reasonable alternatives available to solve the problem in order to continue your employment.

For example, you lost your means of transportation, your working hours changed or you no longer have child care. Reasonable alternatives could include the following measures:

  • explore the possibility of changing your work schedule or your work days;
  • explore the possibility to live closer to your workplace for the time required to find another mode of transportation or to find a solution at work or among your acquaintances;
  • explore the possibility to remain at home while your spouse is temporarily absent from the region;
  • seek a solution to child care among your family or your friends;
  • ask for a leave of absence until you find an adequate solution.

A number of circumstances for quitting are considered just cause

You are justified voluntarily leaving your job in the following situations if, considering all the circumstances, quitting your job was the only reasonable alternative in your case:

Various reasons may prompt you to quit voluntarily your employment. However, to be paid regular benefits, you must prove that quitting your job was the only reasonable alternative in your case. Here is a list of 40 main reasons which may justify voluntarily leaving. You will find for each situation, an overview of the reason, reasonable alternatives that may be used and why the reason for quitting is considered to be with just cause.

Gathering facts from you and your employer

In order to make a fair and objective decision we must:

  1. give you and your employer the opportunity to provide information as to the reasons for voluntarily leaving; and
  2. take this information into account to make the decision.

When you take the initiative to voluntarily quit your job, it is your responsibility to provide information and explanations as to what happened, the approach you took and the reasonable alternatives you have considered before finally deciding to voluntarily quit your job.

Your employer's role is to provide the required information on the circumstances surrounding the voluntary leaving, particularly where the circumstances are related to the work environment.

When gathering facts, the agent must attempt to obtain only the information related to the specific circumstances of the case. He must at all times respect the established principles of fairness and natural justice by giving you and your employer the opportunity to give your version of the facts. After gathering and analysing all the facts on hand, the agent will go, considering all the circumstances, with the most plausible version of facts and will make a decision according to the EI Act and the jurisprudence.

Work force reduction with your employer

When companies reduce permanently the size of their work force, EI will help them and their employees get through the process. If your employer is downsizing and offers you the opportunity to quit your job in order to protect another person’s job, you can leave your job without penalty. However, the company must show that the layoff is permanent and that your departure protects another person’s job.

When faced with downsizing it is best to first consult with an EI officer to ensure that all conditions which might affect you are considered. Do not take anything for granted. To know more on work force reduction measures…

Authorized period of leave

When you voluntarily take a period of leave without pay, authorized by your employer, it is considered as quitting your job. If the reason for voluntarily taking a period of leave is without just cause, you will not be paid regular benefits for the entire period of the leave.

However, you may still be paid maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits as long as you qualify for these benefits.

Quitting your job before the end of your term or before being laid off

When you voluntarily quit your job without just cause within 3 weeks of the end of your term or being laid off, you will not be paid regular benefits from the first day after the last day worked up to the date your employment was to end. After that period, once you will have served a 2-week waiting period, you may be paid regular benefits.

However, you may still be paid maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits as long as you qualify for these benefits.