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Worker, fired after extending a three-week holiday without telling his employer, loses bid for EI benefits

by HR Law Canada

A man who went on holiday, and extended his trip without telling his employer, has lost his bid for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits after being fired.

The worker, identified as TR, was authorized by his employer to take a three-week vacation to Sri Lanka. He was scheduled to return to his job on May 30, 2022. TR said he developed a rash on the trip was not comfortable travelling, so he rebooked his flight for June 6, 2022.

But he didn’t tell his employer about this change of plan. It tried to contact him when he didn’t return to work as scheduled on May 30, but was unable to reach him. It sent him a letter dated June 6, 2022, stating that his employment had been terminated immediately due to his unexplained absence.

The Canada Employment Insurance Commission (Commission) determined that TR voluntarily left his job without just cause, disqualifying him from receiving EI benefits. Dissatisfied with the Commission’s decision, the Claimant appealed to the Tribunal’s General Division.

However, the General Division upheld the employer’s termination decision, ruling that the Claimant’s actions constituted misconduct and rendered him ineligible for EI benefits.

The Claimant, seeking to appeal the General Division’s decision, required permission to move forward with the appeal. Nevertheless, the Tribunal, after careful consideration, denied the request for leave to appeal, stating that TR’s appeal lacked a reasonable chance of success.

The central issue in question was whether TR raised any reviewable error by the General Division that could potentially warrant a successful appeal. The Tribunal emphasized that the Claimant needed to meet a low legal threshold for leave to appeal — a requirement of having at least one arguable ground on which the appeal might succeed.

During the proceedings, the General Division examined the circumstances surrounding the Claimant’s job loss. It acknowledged that the Claimant had initially been authorized by his employer to take a three-week vacation, with the expectation of returning on May 30.

However, the General Division found that the Claimant’s failure to inform the employer about the changed return flight and his subsequent delay in contacting the employer until June 12 constituted misconduct.

Considering the grounds for appeal raised by TR, the Tribunal concluded that no reviewable errors of law or factual inaccuracies were evident in the General Division’s decision. Moreover, the Tribunal clarified that its jurisdiction was limited to assessing the Claimant’s conduct and whether it amounted to misconduct, rather than addressing claims of wrongful dismissal or recourse under other laws.

Consequently, the Tribunal determined that the Claimant failed to demonstrate any grounds upon which the appeal might succeed. As a result, the request for permission to appeal was denied, and the appeal will not proceed, upholding the General Division’s decision.

For more information, see TR v Canada Employment Insurance Commission, 2023 SST 515 (CanLII)

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