Employment Insurance (EI) waiting period change as of January 1, 2017

As of January 1, 2017, the federal government has reduced the waiting period (known as “qualifying period” in Manulife contracts) for employment insurance benefits. The two week waiting period where no benefits are paid, has been reduced to one week. This means the total EI benefit period is now 16 weeks (1 unpaid waiting period week + 15 weeks of paid benefits) rather than 17 weeks. 

How does this affect you?

This change will affect Long Term Disability (LTD) qualifying periods for companies that have integrated LTD with EI benefits. It also affects Short Term Disability (STD) plans qualified under EI Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Plans (SUB) and the EI Premium Reduction Program (PRP). Here’s how the changes will take effect and what action is required.

LTD plans integrated with EI benefits (no STD)

New plans purchased after January 1, 2017 will have a 112 day (16 weeks) qualifying period for LTD only (no STD).

For existing plans, contracts will need to be updated as soon as possible to reduce the qualifying period from 119 days to 112 days. This important change will ensure that there is no gap between EI and LTD for your plan members. 

There will be no change to the LTD rate for this amendment. 

Action required: Please contact your Group Benefits Advisor or Manulife representative as soon as possible to update your contracts.  

STD plans qualifying for PRP

New plans purchased after January 1, 2017 will have qualifying periods of seven days or less to make sure they are eligible for the PRP program and receive a reduction in their EI premium rate.

For existing plans, qualifying periods greater than seven days will need to be reduced to seven days or less in order to continue to qualify under the PRP program.  EI Service Canada has indicated that companies will have a grace period of four years to make any needed adjustments in order to continue to comply with PRP requirements. The transitional period will end on January 3, 2021. If your company has existing PRP plans, you may have already received a communication from the Government about this change.  

There will be price increases for STD as a result of this amendment.

Action required: Please contact your Group Benefits Advisor or Manulife representative within the next 4 years to update your contracts.

STD plans integrated with EI (SUB plans such as Top up, Carve out and Wrap around)

New plans purchased after January 1, 2017 will align with the new EI waiting period to ensure a seamless experience for plan members.

Many existing plans may need an amendment to adjust their plan design because EI is starting payments one week earlier. Your Group Benefits Advisor or Manulife representative can help make a recommendation based on the type of SUB plan you have.

This may result in a reduction in premiums charged by Manulife.

Action required: Please contact your Group Benefits Advisor or Manulife representative within the next year to update your contracts.