» Income and Employment Supports Policy Manual

Skip To Navigation

Skip To Content

Expected to Work/Barriers to Full Employment Policy & Procedures

Published Date: April 24, 2012
Bookmark this page

05 Limited/Ineligible Groups

Self-Employed Persons and Farmers

Income and Employment Supports Act, sections 2, 6 and 15(1)(a)(b)


Self-employment may be a viable means to become independent of Income Support (IS), however, clients must make all reasonable efforts to become self-supporting.


Defining Self-Employment

  • A client who claims (in any context) to be self-employed is considered to be self-employed.
  • A self-employed person is not allowed to declare they are no longer self-employed unless there is an actual change in employment.
  • A client substantiates a change in employment by providing documents such as a job confirmation, letter from their new employer, new business license or copy of a new contract, or new pay stubs.
  • Casual employment (e.g., day labour, grass cutting, snow-shoveling) is not self-employment unless the applicant or recipient claims it is.

Asset and income restrictions on self-employed persons and farmers apply as outlined in the Assets and Income sections of this manual.

Clients determined to be self-employed must meet all program expectations for self-employed sub-type.

Expectations for Self-Employed Clients

Clients are expected to:

  • Keep an accurate record of income received,

  • Maximize earning potential,

  • Demonstrate progression towards business viability, and

  • Attend worker appointments as required.

A worker should refer self-employed clients to one of the Alberta offices of Canada Business for information about business plan development and funding resources.  Clients should be provided with the toll free number (1-800-272-9675 ) and the website address,

If a client requires IS beyond three months (or 12 months if they are a farmer) a review of their circumstances; including a review of the client's Employability Assessment, their current business viability, their Service Plan and the possibility of re-categorizing the individual to the appropriate client category should be completed.  If a client wishes to pursue self-employment beyond this period, and refuse to actively seek full-time competitive employment, their file can be reviewed for non-compliance.

Self-Employed Client Groups

Farmers may receive a maximum of one year’s asset exemption, to give their business a chance to become profitable. IS may be granted to a maximum of 12 months if a viability assessment indicates that the farm operation is viable.

Farmers, otherwise eligible for the IS program, are referred to the district agriculturalist or other appropriate resources to determine the viability of the farming operation.

Following one month of assistance, IS is only granted when:

  • A thorough assessment of the farm operation has been made, and
  • The assessment shows that the farm has the potential of being a viable operation, and
  • All appropriate resources have been used such as farm or business loans and the services of district agriculturalists.

If the viability assessment indicates the farm would never be viable, then the client is assigned to the appropriate client type and is required to meet program expectations for employment. If reassigned, their business assets can be exempted for up to six months at a time, twice, to give them time to deal with the excess assets (not to continue in the farming operation).

The worker reviews the financial situation of farmers through their monthly reporting to determine net self-employment income or increase in net worth because of assets or equipment acquisition. All actual revenue and all allowable expenses incurred during the calendar year are taken into account for farmers.

For assistance with farm income calculation, the worker can consult regional agriculturalist and other community resources.

Expected to Work (ETW)
ETW self-employed clients, including seasonal businesses, are allowed three months only to make their business viable. Their business assets are exempt for this period of time.

ETW self-employed people in seasonal businesses are expected to manage their affairs so they can remain independent of IS year round. If a seasonal farm or business operation cannot sustain the family throughout the year, it may not be viable.

ETW family day-home providers and child care providers are considered to be self-employed.

Barriers to Full Employment (BFE)
There is no time limit on a BFE client's ability to make the company a viable business.

BFE clients who operate a home-based business will continue to have business assets exempt while they are categorized as BFE.