How does mental illness impact worker’s compensation?

Is your organization prepared for the changes to worker’s compensation as it relates to mental health?

In the past, employees in Canada would only receive benefits for mental health in extreme situations such as being involved in a robbery or witnessing a traumatic event while on the job. Additionally, those with high-stress jobs such as first-responders, have usually been denied mental health claims altogether with the rationale that people accept these jobs knowing full-well that they will be exposed to stressful and traumatic situations.

We, as a society, have learned more about the impacts of mental illness on a person’s overall well-being. As a result, new legislation has been introduced to make mental health claims easier to obtain. Mental stress and illness can be the result of many causes including sexual harassment, bullying in the workplace or an overload of stress.

Changes to Legislation

The more that we learn about mental illness, the more sensitive we become to those suffering with it. Today, more than ever, we understand that mental illness can be just as serious as a physical disability though not observed in the same way.

British Columbia recognized this when they amended Section 5.1 of the Worker’s Compensation Act in 2012 to allow claims for mental illness not related to physical injury. Ontario followed suit in 2016 when they passed Bill 163 which allows first responders to make claims for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Getting Your Business Ready for Change

The best way for any business to adapt to these changes in worker’s compensation is to put a plan in to place now – before you have workers making claims related to mental illness.

Here are three steps that you can take now to help prepare your company for these changes:

  1. Learn about the legislation. As an employer, it is not only important to be aware of the legislation in your own province, but you should also take some time to study and evaluate other jurisdictions. Knowing best practices as they relate to mental illness and the workplace in other parts of the country and world, can provide insight into what changes might be forthcoming in your own province.
  2. Assess your workplace. Just as you are required to assess your workplace for potential physical hazards, it is important to assess it for potential causes of mental illness claims. This will aid in the development of management tools and strategies. You may find that you need to take some preventative measures such as sensitivity training or educational resources on mental health, bullying etc.
  3. Source buy-in from management. It is important to raise awareness, particularly amongst your management team. Remember that it is the leaders in the company who will help drive change in attitudes and be the ones providing the most support to employees who need it.

While changes in worker’s compensation as they relate to mental health represent a positive step for the well-being of employees, the changes can also be overwhelming for employers to deal with on their own.

If you require help getting your workplace and your team ready for these changes, TeksMed is ready to help. Contact us today for a consultation.

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