The CERB & Returning to Work

Amidst the economic challenges of COVID-19, a number of Canadians have relied on financial assistance in the form of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (the "CERB"). As businesses now slowly prepare to reopen in a phased approach, individuals must consider if they are still eligible to receive the CERB benefit if they are recalled to work. In doing so, they should keep in mind the potential consequences of receiving the CERB if no longer eligible.

With continued relief being provided by both the Federal and Provincial governments, through measures such as the 75 percent Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, employers have slowly begun to recall their workforces as they prepare to reopen. What this means for individuals receiving CERB is that, if re-employed, they may be ineligible for future CERB benefit payments.

Are You Still Eligible?

One cannot receive a salary in excess of $1,000 during a CERB payment period while also receiving the CERB benefit. Failure to comply with this can result in penalties and fines.

As things begin to normalize, the CRA will begin reviewing all CERB applications and will flag any erroneous, ineligible and fraudulent claims. This will result in correcting and collecting any benefit payments paid out in error.

While mistakes can happen, it is always better to err on the side of caution, and if applicable, individuals should self-disclose to the CRA in the event of their receipt of a benefit payment to which they were not entitled.

Three Things to Consider Before Reapplying for The CERB

Things to consider in the coming days and weeks as it relates to reapplying for the CERB benefit:

1. Individuals who believe they will be recalled to work in the coming weeks may prefer to hold off on reapplying until the next CERB benefit period. If their employment salary exceeds the permitted $1,000.00 cap during the CERB benefit period, they will likely be deemed to have been ineligible for the CERB and will be obliged to repay the benefits received for the relevant period.

2. Remember that the CERB is repayable by a recipient who failed to meet the eligibility requirements for the relevant four-week period.

3. Individuals who received a benefit payment to which they were not entitled should repay the funds.
" The CRA's website sets out steps to help individuals repay benefits received in error. Those who fail to do so will be flagged, and risk the imposition of fines and penalties.
If you have additional questions about returning to work and/or about receiving the CERB, feel free to contact the lawyers at Devry Smith Frank LLP to discuss your rights and options.


"This article is intended to inform. Its content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon by readers as such. If you require legal assistance, please see a lawyer. Each case is unique and a lawyer with good training and sound judgment can provide you with advice tailored to your specific situation and needs."

Originally published July 7, 2020.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.