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Employment Insurance
Update on June 10 EI Meeting with Mark Crawford and Tamara Man

There have been many changes to EI over the last year. In particular, changes to expectations and criteria for job search and the frequency of claims.

When submitting a claim, you will fall into one of three different categories. These categories are based on how long you've paid into EI benefits and how many times you've opened a claim in a specific time frame.

The following example may not be your particular circumstance; it is only intended to be used as a general example.

Many of our CUPE 3766 members may be eligible to apply for regular EI benefits during the period of times that we are not paid for work. In essence, we are deemed laid off during the Christmas, Easter, summer and spring break (if applicable). For some members, this would mean that we could apply of EI benefits for up to 12 weeks, if the spring break is applicable. When we make this calculation, we must include our two week waiting period.

The three claimant categories and definitions are as follows:

Long Tenured Workers: claimants who paid into the EI program for seven of the past 10 years and over the last five years have collected regular or fishing benefits for 35 weeks or LESS.

If your personal claim falls under this category you must search for the same type of occupation and consider 90% of your previous earning, after 18 weeks of EI benefits with the current claim, you must then expand your job search to similar jobs and consider 80% of your previous earnings.

Frequent Claimants: those claimants who have had three or more regular or fishing claims for a total of MORE than 60 weeks in the past five years.

If your personal circumstances place you in this category then you must search for similar work and accept wages starting at 80% of pervious wages for the first 6 weeks. After 6 weeks of collecting benefits, then you must look for any type of work that you are qualified to do and accept 70% of your pervious wages.

Occasional Claimants: All claimants who do not fit into the other two categories and who have limited experience in being unemployed.

If your personal circumstance places you in this category, for the first 6 weeks you must search for same type of work as your pervious occupation and consider 90% of pervious earnings. After 6 weeks then you must expand your job search to similar occupations and accept 80% of pervious wages. After 18 weeks of collecting EI benefits in this current claim, you must expand your job search to any type of work you’re qualified for and accept 70% of pervious wages.

***** Please Note: If you had a 10 month contact for the past 5 school years, and collected regular EI benefits for the past 5 years (including the summer, Christmas and Easter breaks) then you should fall under the occasional claimant category. How this works is 8 weeks (summer) + 2 weeks (Christmas) + 1 week (Easter): 11 weeks X 5 years + 55 weeks. This formula will change once we include spring break into the formula. However, our CUPE Local has only been allocated one year (2012) for a spring break. PLEASE REMEMBER: this information is for informational use only, each members claim is different. *****

There have been claims by the federal government stating EI officials will determine if a claimant is making reasonable efforts to find work. Claimants will be assessed based on their job search activities, intensity and frequency of their efforts, type of work they are looking for and on the evidence they have to prove their job searches. In other words, EI will be checking on the job searches you do how often you make the search, the type of work you're searching for and the proof you have of the searches you've made.

Problems with these changes:

So how will these categories be applied? Mark said that we don't know yet. You will need to be diligent on verifying that you have been looking for work and keep records of your searches. Job search includes: phone or emails to employers, mail/email resumes, job banks/fairs etc. a job search does not mean that there has to be available work, you can either phone or email employers. Due to all these changes and difficulty in processing of claims, the process of searching for work may also take time as there are simply not enough EI workers to deal with everything. Please note you still need to be prepared with your job searches.

***Please note: On June 19 Mark contacted me regarding information he uncovered regarding what the general consensus of an adequate job search and application will be with some EI representatives. We will be expected to contact a job bank once a week and we will be expected to apply for at least 5 jobs per week. Please note, you must have a list of all these applications and when you went on line to search for jobs as EI representative will very likely be contacting clients.****

We discussed the appropriate request and information to place on your cover letters when applying for work. Information to include on cover letter: expected wages and your expected date to return to work for RBE.

Other changes:

The local appeals board no longer exist. The new process of filing an appeal is:

You will need to file for a reconsideration
Appeal to the general division
Appeal to the appeal division

The appeals process is time consuming and very convoluted. It is very difficult to process appeals in a timely fashion. Please do not file an appeal yourself, contact Mark Crawford.
There was discussion on the use of EI sick benefits. To clarify: there is a 15 week limit to EI sick benefits. There is no waiting period when claiming for EI sick benefits, ONLY if you use at least one employer paid sick day prior to starting you EI sick claim. When applying for EI sick benefits please download the doctor's form on the EI web-site. Although the form states that you will not be required to have it filled out until ask to. If you wait until EI contacts you, it may take months to process your claim. Please download the doctor's form, get your doctor to fill out the form, and then send the form to the required address.

***There has been an unusual amount of members receiving letters from EI stating that the claimed amount for the 2011 Christmas claim has been not claimed properly or that there is an error is showing up on the EI system. If you have received one of these letters, please contact Mark Crawford immediately. Even if you sent EI a cheque with the money they state that you owe them, please contact Mark Crawford. If EI states that your claim is incorrect two times in 5 years, your required hours to make an EI claim will double and you may not be able to make an EI claim because of a lack of required hours. This penalty will be in effect for 5 years***

In the past year it has all but impossible to contact EI. With these new changes, the processing of our claims will be slower than normal. Once you have filed your claim, please allow 5 weeks for your claim to be processed and then contact EI. If you are still having difficulty in reaching someone at EI, please down load the consent form from www.unemployedworkerscentre.sk.ca , fill out the form and send it to Mark Crawford at 1888 Angus St. Regina SK. S4T 1Z4, you can also contact Mark at m.crawford@sasktel.net

A huge thank you goes out to Mark Crawford and Tamara O'Man for discussing EI for 2½ hours with our 90 ++ members who attended this meeting.

Jackie Christianson



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February 2013 New EI Pilot Project


Did you know that EI is no longer automatically adjusting EI claims of allowable earning of 40% ...this is the old EI policy.

Effective October 2012 this policy changed. As many of us education workers found out when we applied for EI benefits over the Christmas break.

There is a New Policy in effect.

When we claim the Christmas/New Year's stat, EI will automatically deducted 50% of our wages from our weekly benefit entitlement. In fact this “new policy” may have a negative effect on many of us. Instead of receiving almost full weekly benefits for the Christmas break we received up to $175.00 less but not all is lost.

EI has reassured us that there is a solution to this issue.

Clients are able to call EI at 1-800-206-7218, you can request to have your claim revert to the old policy of 40% allowable earning and have this rule apply to your current claim.
Please note that all regular EI rules apply. For example, you must inform EI if you leave the country while claiming EI benefits.

These are EI rules not CUPE Local 3766; we are trying to make this transition smooth for our members. This overview is for information purposes only, we are curious about the types of problems our members experience, but please remember we are not EI expert. We are just trying to get through the system as you are.

THE PILOT PROJECT OF CALLING EI TO HAVE YOUR 40% EARNINGS ALLOCATED TO YOUR EXISTING CLAIM

This pilot project is in effective from now until 2015.

You cannot call EI to change your claim to the 40% allocation rule until you have served 8 weeks in your current claim. What this means for those of us that will begin a new EI claim at the end of June/beginning of July, we cannot call EI to request the change to the 40% allocation rule until 8 weeks into our claim, which would be the last week of August.

You can still reactivate or start a new claim on the computer. However, after you decide to change your claim to the 40% allocations rule, you will be required to fill out all subsequent reporting periods by mail. Yes, that means report cards, seems like we've walked backwards in time.

You only have a small window of time to call to change your claim to the 40% allocations rule.

Your window of opportunity for the change is within 4 weeks of your last payment from EI. Therefore if the EI agent tells you that you can wait until just before your claim expires to request the change, this is not the case. For those of us whose claims will expire at the end of June, our last claim for EI payment is at the Easter break. If we wait until the end of June to change our current claim to the 40% allocations we will have exceeded that within 4 weeks of last payment time frame. Therefore we would not be able to change that claim to the 40% allocation rule.

When you call to change your claim to the 40% allocations and the EI agent informs you that your statutory holiday pay is NOT considered income as it is considered or classified as other money, please request that the EI agent consult with their SUPPORT TEAM to confirm the comment. The EI agent may be reluctant to do this but it is your right to make this request. The support team WILL inform the agent that statutory holiday pay is considered income as that is why the money is deducted from our benefits. When I pressed the EI agent on this comment, the agent did check with their support team. Before checking with the support team, the agent reported my repayment at $20. After the agent consulted with his support team, the refund to me was increased to $200.00. The agent was incorrect in stating that statutory pay was not to be considered income for the 40% allocation. Please remember that EI agents use a computer screen to read prescribed information from, it does not necessarily mean that the agent understands what they are saying to the clients (you).

Once you make the decision to change your EI claim to 40% of allocations before deductions, your decision is final and cannot be appealed for your current claim only.

This EI information has been verified by Mark Crawford, our local's Employment Insurance Advocate at the Regina Unemployed Workers Help and Counseling Centre (UWHC)

Jackie Christianson
President CUPE Local 3766

___________________________________________________________________


January 2013 New EI Policy

Did you know that EI is no longer automatically adjusting EI claims of allowable earning of 40% ...this is the old EI policy. Effective October 2012 this policy changed. As many of us found out when we applied for EI benefits over the Christmas break, there is a New Policy in effect.

When we claim the Christmas/New Year's stat, EI will automatically deducted 50% of our wages from our weekly benefit entitlement. In fact this new policy may have a negative effect for many of us. Instead of receiving almost full weekly benefits for the Christmas break we received up to $175.00 less but not all is lost.

EI has reassured us that there is a solution to this issue. Clients are able to call EI at 1-800-206-7218, you can request to have your claim revert to the old policy of 40% allowable earning and have this rule apply to your current claim. You must contact EI prior to the end of your current claim. For many of us that date will be prior to June 30th 2013. The sooner you contact EI, the better.

The information on this EI alert has been verified by Mark Crawford, our Unemployed Workers Advocate.

Jackie Christianson
President CUPE Local 3766

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EI News

Lessons Learned by CUPE Local 3766:

EI Regulations 23.2 applies to the allocation of retro pay increases paid as a result of a new collective agreement. The lump sum payment is allocated in the pay period in which the pay period is paid. It is considered earnings for the benefit purposes for the pay period and earnings are to be calculated in determining benefits IF the pay period falls within the 26 averaging period used for the calculations of weekly benefits payable.

In other words, although our local ratified our collective agreement on June 13th, 2012, we receive our retro pay at the end of September, when we ask our employer for an amended ROE to reflect our retro pay as earnings prior to June 2012; our employer would not issue us an amended ROE. Many of us wanted to have our amended ROE applied towards an adjustment to increase our weekly EI benefit entitlement rate.

Furthermore, many of us who open a new claim at the end of June, the retro pay will not be considered a benefit to our earnings as it will not fall within the 26 weeks that EI benefits are being averaged/calculated to determine our weekly entitlement in June 2013. We received our retro pay at the end of September. So, a double slam for those of us who serve our two week waiting period over the summer months.

***Lesson learned! We can avoid future problems like this one if we get a date or anticipated date for retro pay to be paid out***

This information has been verified by Mark Crawford, our locals Unemployed Workers Advocate!

Jackie Christianson
President CUPE Local 3766

______________________________________________________________________________

EI CHANGES June 5, 2012

Please note that these changes are being proposed right now, if you disagree with the proposed changes; please write/email your MP and MLA. This is an opportunity to have your voice heard and if enough voices are heard perhaps the Canadian Government will not allow these changes to go through. We are also requesting that you contact your MLA as the province can voice the concerns of their constituents.

The following is a message from Paul Moist, a CUPE National Education Researcher, based in Ontario:

As most of you know, the federal government is proposing changes to the Employment Insurance Act that would give the minister authority to issue regulations regarding eligibility for benefits.
The changes are designed to encourage claimants to get off EI quicker by making some claimants look for work up to an hour from their homes and to apply for jobs that paid less than their last job, and to apply for any job, not just within their area of expertise.

I know many of you will are alarmed at the proposed changes and wondering how it will impact you. I heard from one local executive member yesterday who sent along a link to this article on the CBC website, which is quite good.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/05/24/pol-employment-insurance-ei-finley.html
I believe the vast majority of our members who collect EI will fall in to the "occasional claimants" category. This comprises people who have less than 60 weeks total on EI over the past 5 years, or an average of 12 weeks a year. The 60 weeks includes waiting periods.

"Occasional claimants will be required to look for a job the same as their last one, and that pays 90% or more than their last job, for the first 6 weeks of their claim. For the next 12 weeks of the claim, they are to consider "similar" jobs that pay 80% or more of their last wages.

Those with more than 60 weeks of claims in the past 5 years will be considered "frequent" users who need more of a push to find a new job. Frequent users will have to consider similar jobs that pay more than 80% of their last wage, for the first 6 weeks of their claim, and "any" job that pays 70% or more than their last one after 6 weeks.

"Long tenured workers," according to this article, i.e. those who have paid into the EI program for seven of the past 10 years, and over the last five years have collected regular benefits for 35 weeks or less", get 18 weeks of claims where they must consider only jobs identical to their last one that pay 90% or more of your last wages.

There is more to these rules but I think these are the crucial ones for school board support staff.
If these proposals go through unamend (they are part of the federal government's omnibus budget bill) they may impact some of our members more than others, depending on their claim history.
I would like to be more comfortable in my assumption that most of our school board membership will fall into the occasional or long-tenured categories.

Paul O'Donnell
Senior Research Officer
Canadian Union of Public Employees
______________________________________________

Mark Crawford from the Unemployed workers Centre clarified a few of Paul O'Donnell's assessments on the new proposed EI changes.
For example;
Looking for work up to an hour from your home has always been an expectation from EI, but it is not strictly regulated. Therefore, regardless of which category you may fall under, EI does have the ability to require that you look for work up to an hour from your home.

Another unclear point is if the two week waiting period is included as your weeks of earnings. Mark's experience is the two week waiting period is not included; however we all know that each EI representative interprets policies and procedures differently. When the policies are not consistently applied is when we utilize Mark's services.

If you have any issues with the new proposed changes, please contact me at 550-7227 or email me at jackiechristianson@myaccess.ca or email Mark Crawford at m.crawford@sasktel.net.

Please note that we cannot help with the slow process of applying for EI benefits or trying to get in touch with an EI representative, if you want quicker results please go to the EI office and speak to a representative.

Jackie Christianson


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