Published September 2003

Maternity Leave for Self-Employed Women


Editor's update: As of January 31, 2010 self-employed workers in Canada (including owner-employees who own more than 40 per cent of the company they work in) can opt into a special pool of EI benefits.

Self-employed workers must voluntarily opt into the program and once you receive benefits you are obliged to remain in the program for the duration of your self-employment career.Benefits are available for maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care.

Self-employed workers are people who either operate your their own business or are employed by a corporation, but are unable to participate in the EI program as an employee because they control more than 40 percent of the voting shares of the corporation.

A small number of self-employed professions do not qualify, as these professions may already be eligible for EI and special benefits:

  • barbers & hairdressers;
  • taxi drivers and drivers of other passenger-carrying vehicles; and
  • fishers who are included as insured persons under the EI Fishing Regulations.

Self-employed workers in Quebec are already covered for maternity and parental benefits through the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan. Those wishing to apply for EI sickness and compassionate care benefits can do so by opting into the program.

More information can be found through Service Canada.

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Categories: HR

Author Info

Julie King is the co-founder and publisher of®. Connect with Julie on Twitter, Linked In, Google +