Voluntary Departure: EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (EI)

In a June 5, 2020 Federal Court of Appeal case, the Court
reviewed Service Canada’s decision to
deny EI benefits on the basis that the
individual left his employment
voluntarily. The individual argued that
although it was his decision to leave,
he had just cause (which would allow
him to receive EI). To have just cause,
the individual would be required to
establish that he had no reasonable
alternative but to leave his job.

Taxpayer loses
The Court found no reviewable error in earlier decisions,
noting that the individual could have:
– discussed his concerns more thoroughly with his
employer to explore possible accommodations
(rather than asking on arrival at the worksite not to work
the night shift);
– requested medical leave, consulted with a doctor, or
obtained a doctor’s note; or
– continued to work until he found other employment.
The Court also noted the individual’s own statement that he
could have continued working if his employer had not
refused to pay him an additional $3/hour.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) angle
Voluntary departure from a position (quitting) also prevents
participation in the CERB. Although there is uncertainty as to
whether a “voluntary departure” for CERB purposes has the
same meaning as for EI, they will likely be fairly similar.
ACTION ITEM: Eligibility for CERB is dependent upon
whether it is the employer or employee’s decision to
leave, and why that decision was made. Prior to
changing employment status of workers, consult with a
human resources specialist or lawyer to understand the
implications for both the business and the employees.

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