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Work Permits

Does your company offer top-up benefits for maternity and parental leave? If yes, you should note that temporary foreign workers whose work permits have expired will no longer get paid by EI

Earlier this month, the government of Canada announced that only individuals with valid SIN numbers would be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits for maternity leave, parental leave or compassionate care.

What this means is that temporary foreign workers who may have paid into the EI system cannot avail themselves of these benefits once their legal entitlement to work in Canada ceases.

Temporary foreign workers are non-Canadians/non-permanent residents who are authorized to work in Canada for a finite period of time. These individuals are typically issued work permits that document who they may work for, the occupation that they may work in, and where in Canada they can work. These work permits also contain an expiry date.

In order to be added to payrolls, temporary foreign workers receive SINs that begin with the number “9”. The expiry date of these SINs correspond with the expiry date of their work permits.

In making this announcement, the rationale expressed was that these programs are to provide temporary income support for individuals to transition back into the Canadian labour market. If a foreign national is no longer legally entitled to work in Canada, the argument is that there is no transition back into the Canadian labour market.

As a result, effective December 9, 2012, eligibility for EI special benefits will be available to only those individuals who are authorized to work in Canada with a valid SIN. Specifically, individuals with expired SINs will no longer be eligible for these benefits.

Does your organization provide top up benefits for employees? If so, you may want to look at this issue if some individuals in your work force are temporary foreign workers.

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About Reis Pagtakhan

Reis Pagtakhan is an immigration law partner with MLT Aikins LLP. His extensive experience includes assisting businesses obtain temporary entry to Canada and permanent residency for their executives, employees and contractors from all over the world. Reis has lectured on and written papers on immigration law for the Law Society of Manitoba, the Manitoba Bar Association, the Human Resources Management Association of Manitoba, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, and the Community Legal Education Association of Manitoba. He has presented position papers before the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Immigration Department officials and Manitoba Labour and Immigration. He has written articles on immigration for the CBC, the Winnipeg Free Press, trade, industry and ethnic publications.

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