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COVID-19 Proper Coding when Issuing an ROE


By McLennan Ross Labour & Employment Team

As a general rule, an ROE must be issued if there is an interruption of earnings in excess of 7 days.

If an employer is issuing a Record of Employment (“ROE”) due to workforce reductions or layoffs, particularly related to COVID-19, it is worth bearing in mind that they must be properly coded with the reason why they are being issued.

To provide employers with some guidance, please use the following codes in Block 16 of the ROE (Reason for issuing this ROE):

Code A — Shortage of Work/End of Contract or Season

  • For use when an employer has temporarily or permanently closed its business, or adjusted its workforce as a precaution.

Code D — Illness/Injury

  • In the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, this code should be used for when the employee is:
    • required to self isolate or quarantine in accordance with the direction of medical officials; or
    • have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • This code remains valid for all other illnesses and injuries that may prevent the employee from working.

We do not recommend that employers use Codes K (Other) or N (Leave of Absence) as that may lead to delays in processing.

In Block 18, enter any specific details about exceptional circumstances you would like to communicate to Service Canada to help clarify the information on the ROE. This may prevent subsequent phone calls from Service Canada agents.

It is not necessary to reiterate information you have already provided on the form in Block 18. Over the last few years, Service Canada has automated the way ROEs are processed. In this technological environment, when you include a comment in Block 18, the ROE is removed from the automated processing system and a Service Canada agent has to review it manually. This review can also slow the process down, and sometimes requires the agent to call you for clarification. For this reason, you should only enter comments in Block 18 in exceptional circumstances.

COVID-19 is an exceptional circumstance, but it does not require comments in Block 18. Applicants seeking EI Sickness Benefits as a result of COVID-19 quarantine or self-isolation can get their one-week waiting period waived. Service Canada has set up a toll-free line (1-833-381-2725 or teletypewriter 1-800-529-3742) for applicants to call and request the waiver of the one-week waiting period. Employees must apply first and call once they have submitted their application.

The one-week waiting period still applies for other Employment Insurance entitlements (including layoffs for shortage of work, even if the shortage of work is related to COVID-19). Service Canada has committed to priority processing of Employment Insurance applications relating to COVID-19.

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