Monthly Archives: December 2012

Employment insurance for the self-employed

I was asked recently about claiming Employment Insurance (EI)benefits as a self-employed person. Here are the basics of what I understand about how to apply, how much you will have to pay and under what conditions you can claim benefits.

Since January 2011 in BC, self-employed people can access EI special benefits. These special benefits are described as maternity benefits, parental benefits, sickness benefits and compassionate care benefits.

How to apply?

In order to be eligible for EI benefits as a self-employed person, you first have to register with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission, applying online with a My Service Canada Account. Then you must wait 12 months.

NB. There are some people who are not eligible to apply for these benefits, so contact Service Canada to confirm eligibility.

 How much will you pay?

Your EI premiums will be calculated based on your income tax and benefit return for the year in which you apply. For example, if you register in 2012 , your EI premiums will be calculated based on your 2012 income tax and benefit return and will be payable by April 30, 2013.

Regardless of when you register during a given year, EI premiums are payable based on your self-employed income for the entire year. See calculation of premiums page for more information.

How can you claim?

(From the Service Canada website ) After 12 months a self-employed person can claim these special benefits if:

You have reduced the amount of time devoted to your business by more than 40% because:

    • your child was born,
    • you are caring for your newborn or adopted child or children,
    • you are ill, injured, or in quarantine, or
    • you need to provide care or support to a gravely ill family member.

AND you have earned a minimum amount of self-employed earnings during the calendar year preceding the year you submit a claim. This amount may change from year to year. If you want to apply for benefits in 2012, for example, you would need to earn at least $6,222 in 2011.


  • for compassionate care benefit claims – you have provided medical proof showing that a gravely ill family member who is at risk of dying within 26 weeks needs your care or support,
  • for EI sickness claims – you have provided a medical certificate as proof that you are unable to work because of illness, injury, or quarantine,
  • for EI maternity or parental benefit claims – you have provided the expected date of birth of the child and the actual birth date once it has occurred, or the official placement date in the case of adoption.

If you are self-employed and an insured employee, you can choose whether to apply for EI special benefits either as a self-employed person or as an employee. See amount of weekly benefits page for more information.