Monday, August 24, 2009

Employment Insurance (If you can get it)

For those of you that don't know, my last company closed my office in June. This means that I am eligible for Employment Insurance benefits. I figure that because I am eligible and because I have paid the premiums for years, I might as well collect.

I won't go through all of the conditions but I will tell you that in order to collect you need complete an application - which you can do online through the Services Canada website - and receive a completed Record of Employment from your previous employer. The completing of the application is really not that difficult. In my case, it was even easier because I have a ePass account that I use to submit and track my taxes with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Of course, the system isn't exactly the greatest, but it does work. The problem that I have had is that getting a record of employment (ROE) has been an absolute nightmare.

Technically (I would say legally but I suppose that does not mean anything) I was supposed to get an ROE within 5 days of finishing work.. and I finished work on June 30th.

The problem is that my former employer is based in the US and has dealt with two payroll processing companies during the time that I worked. Neither company could issue a single ROE for the time that I worked so I have had to get two ROEs. The first one was submitted electronically - good enough - but the second one (physical version) I received just last Friday.

Unfortunately for me, the ROE that was submitted electronically and automatically attached my application (which is good because technically the ROE should be complete and correct). In my case the electronic ROE had too few hours to qualify me and I was rejected. I have had the file reopened and escalated but I have to wait another week to get the case reviewed.

So I'm rounding the corner on two months out of work and I'm still not getting any EI!!!!

Gotta love it. So what is my advice for those that find themselves in this situation:

1) Although leaving a company is hectic, always ask for an ROE before you leave so they can get the ball rolling. Get a physical version if it is easier so you can verify it but ideally they should file it electronically.

2) Complete your application ASAP. You don't need to wait to get an ROE to fill out the application. If you don't have an ROE, the application will just sit there until the ROE is attached and then it will be automatically submitted. Apparently, you can lose benefits if you don't file.

3) Use the Services Canada Website

4) Complete your reports every two weeks, even if your application has not been approved. When you collect EI, you need to tell the government every two weeks that you are looking for work and you are willing to work... this is a condition of EI... so you need to complete reports to that effect. You can do them on the phone or maybe in person but trust me - the web version is easy.

5) Keep records. I can't stress this one enough.. keep copies and notes on everything you do and when you do it. Comes in handy when things get messy.

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