Employment insurance premiums serve the purpose of funding employment insurance or EI. The aim of Employment insurance is to give temporary financial help to Canadian professionals who may be out of work without any mistake on their part.
Employment insurance is available for individuals who may have lost their employment either due to layoffs or unavailability of work. The insurance includes maternity and paternal assistance. Financial help may also be available for individuals who cannot work either because they are ill or because they are looking after a child or a critically unwell family member. Note these benefits are not available for voluntary exits, dismissals related to misconduct or inappropriate behavior, or unemployment because of participation in legal disputes.
For 2014, EI premium is calculated at a rate of 1.88% per annum (1.53% for Quebec). If you're earning $40,000, your Employment Insurance premium will be $752 per annum. However, there's a maximum earnings limit of $48,600 or a maximum annual premium of $913.68 ($743.58 for Quebec). So even if you are earning more than $48,600, you cannot contribute more than $913.68 each year. Your employer pays 1.4 times the amount you contribute towards EI. If your EI contribution is $752 per annum, your employer has to contribute $1053. And thus your net contribution will be $1805 each year. The rates for Quebec are lower as the residents have a separate deduction called Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) for maternity and paternal benefits.
The available amount of EI varies on the basis of individual situations. As a standard, the basic rate of calculation is 55% of average weekly earnings with an upper limit of $515 per week. So if you were making $800 per week, and you are out of work for no fault of yours, you can get up to $440 per week from EI. But if you were making $1,000 a week, the maximum EI available to you will be $515 per week (and not $550 or 55% of $1,000).
The duration of EI availability depends on factors like regional unemployment rate, and hours worked prior to making a claim. Typically, EI benefits are available for a period of 14 to 45 weeks. Between two claims, there should be a gap of at least 52 weeks.
EI contributions are deducted from gross pay along with other items such as taxes. Tax credits are available for amounts contributed towards EI and QPIP. If you're contributing $725 per annum, this amount will be deducted from your taxable income. However, in case you receive EI, you will be liable for both federal as well as provincial taxes on the amount. You can calculate the impact of Employment Insurance using the tax calculator.