Update: Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefit Extension
As it proposed in its 2022 Budget
, the federal government has confirmed it is extending the Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits period from 15 weeks to 26 weeks later this year. The official implementation date and details have not yet been confirmed by the government and we will share further details once they are available. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know.
We will not require or implement any changes to our disability plan designs based on this extension. However, plan sponsors may wish to amend their short-term disability (STD) and long-term disability (LTD) plans and policies to align with the new 26-week EI period.
Impact to short-term disability (STD) benefits integrated with EI
Plan sponsors with EI-integrated STD may wish to adjust their benefits to line up with the new 26-week extension.
Impact to plans with no STD benefits
For plan sponsors who do not offer STD, they have the option of adjusting their LTD plans to the new 26-week elimination period if members claim EI prior to LTD. This adjustment would help to avoid the plan member receiving disability and EI payments at the same time and potentially being required to return funds due to overpayment.
Considerations for plan sponsors
Plan sponsors who amend their STD or LTD policies to align with the new 26-week EI period should note that there may be inadvertent delays to their employees’ return to work. While collecting EI, injured or ill employees do not benefit from our early intervention services or rigorous claims management practices that could help them get back to work sooner. So, by delaying the availability of STD or LTD coverage, the advantages that these programs are intended to provide could also be delayed.
Impact to Premium Reduction Program (PRP)
The Premium Reduction Program (PRP) allows employers with eligible short-term disability plans to pay lower EI premiums. The eligibility criteria have not changed at this time. The government plans to review the PRP in 2024.
If you have questions about these changes or what they mean for your clients’ disability plans, please contact your Group Account Executive or myFlex Sales Manager.