Do you work for a family member? If you do, you may be paying Employment Insurance premiums that you will never be able to collect.
Thousands of British Columbians work in family businesses and pay EI premiums on the salary or wage they earn for that work without realizing they might not be eligible to collect EI.
EI claims are most often refused when employees are working for family members with the explanation that they are working at a non-arm’s length relationship with their employer. In layman’s terms what this means is that an employee that works for a family member – whether it be a son, daughter, father, mother, or common law relationship – is treated differently than other staff because of the familial relationship.
Applying for EI is a stressful time whether you are coping with the loss of a job, the onset of an illness or the impending birth of a child. That is not the time you want to find out that you have been paying into a system that will not be there to support you as believed.
While these rules might sound fairly clear cut, the criteria is applied on a case-by-case basis rather than systematically. Applying for a ruling from CRA is the only way to establish your insurability. If you are ruled uninsurable you can request a refund from CRA for up to three years, plus the current year. To ensure you don’t lose a year’s refund potential, get your applications into CRA by December 31st.
There are several companies operating in BC that will offer to get the ruling for you at the hefty price tag of up to 50 per cent of any refund provided. Canadian Federation of Independent Business was a key player in getting this refund process established. Every year CFIB helps hundreds of our small business members through the process of applying for a refund for free as a part of membership. Don’t go into another year without getting some certainty regarding your insurability.
Nicole Nash is a Business Counsellor with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. CFIB represents 105,000 small-and medium-sized businesses across Canada, with 10,000 in BC. Nicole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org