Monday, September 22, 2008

Unemployment benefits for the self-employed

My apologies for silence the last ten days. I know both my followers must miss my posts. I do mean to do this more often, but starting the job, settling the kids into regular activities and clearing up other work has left me stressed, then ill (now getting over the cold/flu), and very time crunched. Still no excuse, hence the catch up this week.

Via Darren I read about a campaign promise in the current Canadian election by the ruling Conservative party to implement employment insurance for self-employed people. I guess the main point of it is to provide maternity/parental benefits to those of us not currently eligible because we work for ourselves.

Interesting thought. Yes, it would be great to get some benefits for maternity leave. But the maximum benefit you can get is about $415 a week, which is then taxed. I know for some people that's a significant sum of money over several months, but are those people self-employed? I had a friend go back to work because her benefits were running out, but once she paid for child care, the financial difference between working and not working was less than $500 a month.

I guess I was lucky, because I had the best of both worlds. With my first child, I had worked at a job part time that ended six months before the baby was born, but under the EI rules I qualified for maximum benefits. Which was nice, but frankly working part time I made more than the benefit amount, so I wound up refusing benefits most weeks (you have to report earnings and if you earn more than a certain amount, they don't pay you). The second baby for me I had no benefits, and yes, I started back a bit earlier than with the first, but it didn't make a lot of difference to me.

So are there a lot of self-employed people in their 20s and 30s who would benefit from EI? Am I being elitist to think every self-employed person would turn up their nose at $1200 a month, in return for paying in for at least six months before that?

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