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How Can Canadian REALTORS Apply For Unemployment?

At one time realtors were not permitted to pay into the EI program for Self Employed realtors. Times have changed and EI benefits have now been extended to self-employed realtors. Self-employed realtors can participate in the Employment Insurance Program. The change has made a level playing field for realtors. Canadian Real Estate Association members who choose to participate in the EI program will now be able to have a baby or care for gravely ill family members according to Bill C-56. Bill C-56 is the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act. The Act includes up to 15 weeks of maternity benefits, parental adoptive benefits up to 35 weeks, up to 15 weeks of sickness benefits, and up to six weeks for compassionate care benefits. Realtors who opt into the EI benefit program will pay the same EI premium as employees that receive a salary.

Employers Premium

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Self-employed realtors are not required to pay the employer portion of Employment Insurance premiums.  For this reason, self-employed realtors are not eligible for regular Employment Insurance benefits. However, now self-employed realtors have the choice to balance their career and family life as other working Canadians do.

Canada Revenue Agency

The Canada Revenue Agency determines a realtor’s employment status as a person’s employment status directly affects a person’s eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits. All factors in an agreement including the terms and conditions of employment will determine a realtor’s employment status. Self-employed realtors and other employees have different responsibilities, entitlements and benefits.

Determining If A Realtor Is Self-Employed Or An Employee Of A Real Estate Agency

CRA looks at all the facts between a real estate agent and the agency. The Realtor Code outlines all acceptable standards of conduct for any member of a Real Estate Board or Provincial Association. MLS ® and Realtor ® trademarks are owned by the Canadian Real Estate Association. MLS ® and Realtor ® identify members of the Canadian Real Estate Association and signify a very high standard of service. There are also other Acts in place to protect Real Estate Brokers, Real Estate Agents, buyers, and sellers. All Acts apply to both self-employed realtors and employees of agencies. A self-employed real estate agent enters into a contract for service with their agency. The self-employed realtor then carries on their own business. The self-employed real estate agent agrees to provide a given result. The self-employed real estate agent is not subject to the control or direction of the agency they entered into the contract with. An employee of an agency is under the direction and control of the agency.

Factors Relating To Self-Employed Realtors

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There are several indicators that identify that a realtor is self-employed. Some of these indicators are but are not limited to:

  • Paying a fixed amount to the agency for administrative fees for services such as reception service, use of office facilities, transaction processing, use of printers, use of a desk in the office, and in-house payroll and accounting services.
  • The Realtor controls and sets the rate of commission.
  • The Realtor is not required to meet any type of sales quotas.
  • The Realtor is responsible for automobiles, cell phones, personal marketing aids, cameras, computers. (Typically)
  • The Realtor is responsible for their own expenses such as vehicle insurance and repairs, association membership fees, and professional liability insurance.
  • The Realtor is free to hire their own staff such as photographers, etc.
  • The Realtor either contributes to the cost of advertising listings or covers the entire cost.

Information Regarding Realtors Applying For the Special Benefits Employment Insurance Program

The following information pertains to self-employed realtors.

  • Realtors who have opted in for the EI program will pay premiums and be eligible for benefits based on their income.
  • To qualify for EI benefits, the self-employed realtor must pay into the program for 12 consecutive months
  • Applicants must register for access to Employment Insurance special benefits through their My Service Canada Account.
  • Once registered, self-employed realtors will begin paying premiums
  • Realtors need to ensure they meet the minimum earnings to be eligible.
  • There is a maximum annual  earnings threshold
  • Maternity benefits include 55% of their income up to $51,500
  • Men are also eligible to take paternity benefits
  • Adoptive parents are eligible for parental benefits
  • Surrogate Mothers are eligible for maternity benefits
  • Once a self-employed realtor opts-in and starts making EI contributions and collecting EI benefits, they must continue to contribute for the rest of their self-employed career.
  • A self-employed realtor can cancel their EI participation within 60 days of registering, or after 60 days if you have never collected EI benefits.
  • A notice of termination must be filed with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission.

Federal and Provincial COVID-19 Support for Self-Employed Realtors in Ontario

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Many realtors have been greatly impacted by COVID-19. The Federal and Provincial Governments of Ontario have put programs in place to financially assist those affected. CERB is available for realtors that have been affected. The benefit is available from March 15, 2020, to September 26, 2020. To be eligible for this benefit a realtor must:

  • Be at least 15 years of age and reside in Canada
  • Must have had no income for 14 consecutive days.
  • Have stopped working for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Are still employed but have no income due to the COVID-19 slowdown.
  • Are sick with the COVID-19 virus or are quarantined.
  • Are taking care of a family member that is sick with the COVID-19 virus.
  • Or are the parents of children that require supervision due to daycare and school closures due to COVID-19.
  • Must have had $5000 in income, self-employment income, maternity or parental leave benefits for the year 2019 or in the 12 months preceding the date of CERB application.
  • Eligible realtors can apply for the CERB benefit online through MY ACCOUNT with the CRA.

Is It Really Worth It For Self-Employed Realtors To Pay Into EI?

Self-employed realtors need to weigh the pros and cons of opting in to participate in EI. The maximum payable may not be worth the years of premiums that you pay. Every person’s situation is different, but make sure you do your homework before you make your final decision.

Resources

https://www.crea.ca/news/realtors-welcome-ei-benefits-for-self-employed/
https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/canada-pension-plan-cpp-employment-insurance-ei-rulings/cpp-ei-explained/real-estate-agents.html
https://www.oreablog.com/index.php/federal-and-provincial-support-programs-for-ontario-realtors/
https://www.mileiq.com/en-ca/blog/self-employed-maternity-leave-canada/