WCB Alberta: The Obligation to Reinstate
Effective September 1, 2018, the Worker’s Compensation Board of Alberta implemented new legislation – the result of reform within WCB Alberta driven by the new Provincial NDP government – requiring that employers make every effort to implement a concrete return-to-work plan for injured workers.
Under the new legislation, WCB assumes that if the injured worker has been an employee with the company for 12+ months, they will go back to work either as soon as they are able to perform their essential job duties (in the same job, or a job of equal value and pay), or when they are fit for modified or alternative work, in the first available job.
Employers that fail to meet the obligation to return the injured employee to work may be penalized the equivalent of the worker’s net salary for the year prior to the accident. Additionally, if the employee is terminated within six months of returning to work, WCB will assume the employer did NOT meet the obligation to reinstate (barring a valid business reason for termination, including work shut-downs or lay-offs). The new legislation applies to all claims with a date of accident on or after September 1, 2018.
These changes mean it is of utmost importance for employers to strategize, offer, and implement modified work agreements for all injured workers. The obligation to reinstate may seem daunting, but offering modified work agreements can be a simple and streamlined process with the right support system. This is how TeksMed can help. We strategize modified work for all key positions within your business based on compensation-board-approved common sense medical guidelines and restrictions for typical injuries. We supply customized modified work agreement forms for workers and supervisors to review and sign together. We keep in constant communication with WCB and your employees – a requirement of the new legislation – to ensure the worker is progressing well both in treatment and at work.
While the obligation to reinstate may seem overly harsh or unfair, particularly to industries or businesses who may feel they do not have enough “light” work available or are unable to financially support workers that are unable to meet normal job demands, modified work agreements will positively impact your financial bottom line and ensure your workers are returning to their normal duties faster than if they had recovered solely at home. Remaining job attached and involved in the workplace is a key component of an injured worker’s recovery.
What remains the same?
Wage replacement guidelines will remain the same. If an employee is unable to return to work or if they return to working fewer hours or on a lower salary, WCB will provide wage replacement benefits and wage top-up benefits until the employee is recovered. As well, the obligation to reinstate ends when the employee declines to return to work.
Please refer to the Fact Sheets from WCB Alberta for additional information regarding the employer’s obligation to reinstate, as well as the employer’s responsibility to continue to pay for the worker’s health benefits for 12 months after the date of accident or injury:
Obligation to Reinstate
For more information on these and other WCB related matters, contact TeksMed Services at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Knights is a Return to Work Coordinator with TeksMed Services