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.
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.