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/about-us/news-events/announcements/2020/March/covid-19-situation-your-reporting-payment-deadline

Payments deferred until June 30, 2020 for employers paying on a quarterly basis; payments are deferred until March 2021 for employers who pay on an annual basis.

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

WorkSafeBC is determining whether current policy provides for cost relief related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and exploring whether new policy should be developed. No decision has yet been made, however.

Is WorkSafeBC considering providing relief of costs to employers during the COVID-19 pandemic, owing to the inability of workers to seek treatment?

We are investigating whether existing policy provides for pandemic-related relief of costs. We are also exploring whether new policy should be developed to address relief of costs during a pandemic. Further guidance will be provided if we begin work on a new policy.

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/EFS_Premium_relief.pdf

All private sector businesses will have their payments deferred to 2021; payments already made in 2020 will be refunded. Employers with $10 million or less in insurable earnings are eligible for a 50% waiver of their 2020 premiums once invoicing resumes in February 2021.

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:

http://www.wcbsask.com/sask-wcb-offers-relief-measures-for-employers/

Interest and penalties applied in March for late payments on 2020 premiums are forgiven. Effective April 1, all premium penalties and interest charges will be waived until June 30, 2020.

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/wcb%E2%80%99s-response-to-the-covid-19-pandemic

Premium payments and payroll reporting deadline have been deferred until the end of May; late payment penalties will be waived until further notice.

https://www.wcb.mb.ca/workers-compensation-board-of-manitoba-returns-37-million-surplus-to-provide-financial-relief-to

In May, eligible employers will receive a credit to their account based on 20 per cent of their 2019 premium. To be eligible to receive the surplus, employers must have fulfilled their payroll reporting responsibilities for 2019 and paid a WCB premium in 2019.

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

WCB Manitoba has not currently implemented any direct cost relief for COVID-19 claims or other claims impacted by the pandemic, but has said that they are “considering the economic and business impacts of COVID-19.”

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

All premium reporting and payments deferred until August 31, 2020. No interest will accrue and no penalties will be charged during six month deferral period between March 31 and August 31.

Also, 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/salle-de-presse/communiques/Pages/20-mars-2020-quebec.aspx

Effective March 20, 2020, payments deferred until August 31, 2020; no interest or penalties will be incurred during this time. Deadline for 2019 payroll reporting extended to June 1, 2020.

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

The CNESST has 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.

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.

WorkSafeNB:

https://www.worksafenb.ca/about-us/news-and-events/news/2020/as-we-face-the-global-pandemic-of-covid-19-worksafenb-defers-premium-payments-for-three-months-with-qa/

Premiums related to employer payrolls for February, March, and April will be deferred for three months without interest. No premium payments are due until June 2020.

WCB Nova Scotia:

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

All employer premium payments will continued to be deferred until October 2020, including waiving of late fees and interest.

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.

WCB PEI:

http://www.wcb.pe.ca/Information/NewsItem/504

WCB PEI announced a further deferral of assessment due dates related to 2020 employer payrolls until September 30, 2020. Until then, WCB premiums will not have to be payed, and employers will not be charged interest or penalties during this time.

WorkplaceNL:

https://workplacenl.ca/article/advisory-workplacenl-defers-assessment-payments-from-employers-until-august-31-2020/

WorkplaceNL is further deferring the collection of assessment payments from employers until after August 31, 2020 (from June 30, 2020), and waiving interest charges or penalties.

WCB Yukon:

https://wcb.yk.ca/PG-0042/COVID-19/Q0313.aspx

Employers are being offered the opportunity to defer their assessment premiums without penalty or interest charges to a date that is appropriate for an employer’s business situation. Partial or total refunds may be granted to employers who have already made payments in 2020 and have had a significant change in their payroll.

WSCC Nunavut & Northwest Territories:

https://www.wscc.nt.ca/news/employer-assessment-payments-due-date-extended

All Employer Assessment Payments that were due on April 1 are now due on May 1, 2020.

 

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

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