New requirements meant to be 'more effective and fair'
Injured workers in British Columbia will be better supported to return to work thanks to new requirements under the province’s Workers Compensation Act.
Effective Jan. 1, 2024, an employer and injured worker will be required to cooperate with each other and with WorkSafeBC to ensure the worker can return to their pre-injury job, a comparable job or, where the worker is not fit to do their pre-injury work duties, to other suitable work.
“The duty-to-co-operate provisions will assist WorkSafeBC with overseeing the return-to-work process by laying out clear expectations, for both the employer and the worker, that they need to work together to get the injured worker back on the job in a safe and timely way,” says the province’s ministry of labour.
“As well, employers must, to the point of undue hardship, make any changes to the work or workplace necessary to accommodate the worker. The new requirements support a more effective and fair workers’ compensation system in the province.”
Seven in 10 (70 per cent) of workers who were injured on the job in Ontario still experience pain 18 months after the incident, according to a previous report from the Institute for Work and Health (IWH).
Administrative penalties for employers
The new requirements in B.C. – which will be in effect for employers with 20 or more workers starting Jan. 1, 2024 – will allow WorkSafeBC to impose administrative penalties on employers who fail to comply with their return-to-work obligations.
The requirements were established in Bill 41, Workers Compensation Amendment Act (No. 2), 2022, which received royal assent on Nov. 24, 2022. An order-in-council was required to bring the amendments into force.
Back in 2020, B.C. gave Bill 23 royal assent, introducing changes to the Workers Compensation Act.
WorkSafeBC is developing policies to support the new return-to-work requirements. It will hold a broad public consultation in July and August of this year.
“People injured on the job need to know that there is a workers’ compensation system that meets their needs,” Harry Bains, minister of labour, previously said. “With these changes, we’re making sure that workers are properly supported when they need it most.”
Each year, there are more than 100,000 new claims due to workplace injury or fatality, according to the B.C. government.
Recently, B.C. expanded the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) for people working at health authorities, effective June 1, 2023.