Rules for employment insurance tightened on Jan. 6

Frequent claimants may have to take pay cut up to 30 per cent: Service Canada

New rules regarding employment insurance came into effect on Jan. 6.

Unemployed Canadians have always been required to search for and accept "suitable employment" in order to receive EI benefits, but the terms had not been spelled out.

Under the new rules, a “reasonable job search” includes the preparation of resumés, attending job fairs, registering for job banks, applying for jobs and completing evaluations determining competency. “Suitable employment” will be assessed according to commuting time, how compatible work hours are with the claimant’s life and wages.

Claimants will also be categorized into three categories: long-tenured claimants, occasional claimants and frequent claimants. Frequent claimants are expected to accept any job that is similar to their previous position. After seven weeks, the claimant is expected to accept any position she is qualified for with the pay rate beginning at 70 per cent of her previous hourly earnings.

Exceptions may be made for individuals with health issues, one’s physical ability to perform work, family obligations and transportation limitations.

The federal government has increased the maximum annual EI premium for employees to $891.13, up from $839.97 in 2012. The maximum annual EI premium for employers has been increased to $1,247.57 in 2013, up from $1,175.96 in 2012.

Unemployed workers will now receive an increased weekly EI benefit, which was increased to $501, up from $485 in 2012.

Canada's Conservative government announced tighter rules for employment insurance in May 2012 to try to deal with the country’s high unemployment rate alongside job shortages in certain areas.

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