Financial Relief from Workers’ Compensation Boards During COVID-19

 In COVID-19

During these times of economic uncertainty, many employers are understandably worried about the future of their businesses. With so many other concerns weighing on our minds – staying physically healthy, maintaining mental wellness, the safety of our loved ones – the added burden of financial insecurity may be especially heavy. Luckily for us Canadians, our government and its agencies are making substantial changes to adapt to these unprecedented circumstances. Every single workers’ compensation board has implemented some form of payment deferral in order to help businesses cope with what is, for nearly everyone, a time of severe financial strain.

In addition to premium support and cost relief from workers’ compensation boards, many provinces are now also facilitating paid COVID-19 sick days. 

TeksMed has worked to gather information regarding payment deferrals from workers’ compensation boards across the country to ensure that you know what financial relief is available to your business. Please find the province(s) in which your company operates below to see a brief summary of revised payment schedules – follow the link for more details.

WorkSafeBC:

https://www.worksafebc.com/en/covid-19/claims/information-for-employers 

While WorkSafeBC has stated that existing policy does not allow cost relief to be applied to accepted COVID-19 claims, direct costs from COVID-19 claims were excluded from the calculations of 2022 experience ratings. It is currently unclear if this will continue for future years.

Is WorkSafeBC considering providing relief of costs to employers during the COVID-19 pandemic?

While existing policy does not provide for relief of costs for claims where COVID-19 has been accepted as a compensable occupational disease (direct COVID-19 claims costs), WorkSafeBC excluded these costs in the calculation of the expected new injury costs for 2022 and experience rating for employers. However, for employers who incurred direct COVID-19 claims costs in 2020, these costs have been reflected in their rate group balance, and amortized over a period of five years, as adjustments to the rate groups’ future premium rates. This approach taken by WorkSafeBC recognizes the negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on these employers.

While the following COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave program is administered by WorkSafeBC, reimbursement for paid COVID-19 sick days does not require a WCB claim and will not affect your account’s costs or premiums. Please follow the link for more details.

British Columbia’s COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave

Effective May 20, 2021, you are required to offer employees 3 days of paid sick leave if they need to stay home as a result of circumstances related to COVID-19…. If your workplace does not have an existing sick leave program, the Province will reimburse you up to $200 a day.

Applications for reimbursement are now live – click here to begin the application process.

WCB Alberta:

https://www.wcb.ab.ca/assets/pdfs/employers/COVID19_cost_relief.pdf

Cost relief is being applied in Alberta for COVID-19 claims, as well as other claims that were impacted by the pandemic.

WCB will remove costs automatically through five applications of cost relief, including an administrative change that will positively affect employers’ experience rating.
1. Cost relief for COVID-19 claims.
2. Cost relief for claims where modified work was no longer available for no-time-loss claims due to the provincial shutdown.
3. Cost relief for claims where the worker became fit for work during the shutdown and the employer could not offer modified work because of the shutdown (modified work must have been offered within two weeks of the provincial re-opening).
4. Cost relief for delays in hospital admission and surgeries due to the pandemic.
5. Recording claims as no-time-loss when modified work is no longer available. Although there are no actual costs to relieve, the status of the claim on the experience record will be changed, which can impact premiums.

WCB Saskatchewan:

https://www.wcbsask.com/policy-and-procedure/covid-19-response-employer-relief-measures-claim-cost-relief

Cost relief for COVID-19 claims, and existing claims where a worker’s recovery is delayed due to postponed treatment or vocational rehab dur to the pandemic, is being offered by WCB Saskatchewan.

Where a COVID-19 claim … is determined by the WCB to have arisen out of and in the course of employment, the employer will be provided with total cost relief. All claims costs will be charged to WCB’s Disaster Reserve (i.e., earnings loss benefits, medical costs, etc.).

The WCB will charge partial claims costs to the Second Injury and Re-Employment Reserve if recovery from an accepted work injury is prolonged due to delays in treatment or vocational rehabilitation caused by limited health care services available during the COVID-19 situation.

WCB Manitoba:

https://www.wcb.mb.ca/how-the-wcb-is-responding-to-covid-19

WCB Manitoba has indicated that costs for COVID-19 claims in 2020 and 2021 will not affect employers’ premiums.

…all costs for COVID-19 claims in 2020 and 2021 will be excluded for rate-setting purposes. These costs will still appear on your Claim Transaction Statement for transparency and statistical purposes; this information can assist you with the ongoing management of COVID-19 claims.

Manitoba’s Pandemic Sick Leave

The Manitoba Pandemic Sick Leave program provides employers with up to $600 per employee for up to five full days of COVID-19 related sick leave, which do not have to be taken consecutively.

WSIB Ontario:

https://www.wsib.ca/en/financialrelief

It has been determined that costs associated with COVID-19 related claims will not be allocated at an employer or class level. Instead, they will be allocated on a Schedule-wide basis and there will be no change in premium rates for 2020.

Costs associated with COVID-19 related claims will not be allocated at an employer or class level. Instead, they will be allocated on a Schedule-wide basis and there will be no change in premium rates for 2020 or 2021. Premium rate stability will help Ontario business continue to adjust to the ongoing pandemic, while protecting coverage for the people we serve. 

While the following COVID-19 Worker Income Protection program is administered by WSIB, reimbursement for paid COVID-19 sick days does not require a WSIB claim and will not affect your account’s costs or premiums. Please follow the link for more details.

Ontario’s COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit

On April 29, 2021, the Ontario Government amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 to require employers to provide employees with up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave because of certain reasons related to .

Applications for reimbursement are now live – click here to begin the application process. You can also check the status of an existing claim for reimbursement here.

CNESST Quebec:

https://www.cnesst.gouv.qc.ca/en/prevention-and-safety/covid-19/flexibility-measures-covid-19

The CNESST has advised that costs for COVID-19 claims will be allocated to the classification in which the employer operates, and not directly to the employer. It has also advised that it will review and adjust, on its own initiative, the costs of claims where benefits would have ended as of March 12, 2020 had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cost of an employment injury accepted for a diagnosis of COVID-19 will be imputed to the classification unit in which the employer is classified. Employers covered by this measure do not have to submit a Request to transfer or share the imputed cost to the CNESST.

Where income replacement benefits continue to be paid in specific situations where these benefits should have ended as of March 12, 2020 had it not been for COVID-19, the additional costs related to these benefits will not be charged to the employers’ files. The CNESST will, on its own initiative, review and adjust the costs in the employers’ files.

The CNESST has adopted flexibility measures with respect to its orientation under section 326 of the AIAOD in order to be able to accept requests for the transfer of the cost of benefits when it is objectively demonstrated that the COVID-19 situation has had an impact on the progress of a worker’s file.

WCB Nova Scotia:

https://wcb.ns.ca/About-Us/News-Room/WCB-Nova-Scotia-announces-further-support-for-employers-during-COVID-19.aspx

Costs related to COVID-19 claims will not impact individual employers, and will instead be absorbed by the employer base as a whole. This means COVID-19 claims will not affect an employer’s individual experience rating or their industry rate.

Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Program

Nova Scotians who need to take time off work because of COVID-19 may qualify for up to 4 paid sick days through the COVID-19 Sick Leave Program.

 

Should you have any other questions regarding COVID-19 and how it may be affecting your business, contact TeksMed today.

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