Workers' Compensation for Workplace Injuries and Illness

Workers' Compensation for Workplace Injuries and Illness

By Mark Swartz

 

Injuries and illnesses from jobs remain a serious matter. Beyond the physical impacts there are financial concerns too.

Wage losses, disability benefits and rehabilitation costs may have to be covered. In the case of a workplace fatality, dependents might be in need of income replacement.

Workers’ Compensation is a government program that deals directly with these matters. They operate at either the federal or provincial level, depending on the type of employer.

 

What Workers’ Compensation Covers

When employees suffer workplace accidents, or develop job-related illnesses, they can apply for assistance from a Workers' Compensation Board (WCB). Payments may be made for the following:

·         Temporary lost income

·         Permanent outlays following the final settlement of a claim

·         Medical expenses such as prescription drugs, and treatments (e.g. chiropractic or physiotherapy sessions)

·         Rehabilitation expenses like training, medical equipment, clothing, and care for day-to-day activities

·         Physical disability accommodation and retraining

 

In addition, if a worker passes away due to a work injury or disease, their dependants may receive fatality benefits.

 

Reporting And Related Obligations

An employee who gets seriously hurt or ill from work must report this to their employer as soon as possible. The employer has to notify WCB if the treatment required is anything beyond first aid or if time is missed from work.

 

It is also important for the affected worker to submit their own report to their provincial WCB. Both the employee and their company then have to co-operate in the early and safe return (if possible) to suitable and available employment there.

 

In a recent development, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that workers who become ill due to a possibly toxic workplace don’t need to prove their case with scientific certainty in order to collect workers’ compensation benefits.

 

Watch For Employer Suppression Of Claims

Findings of studies show a troubling trend. Workers are being injured and made ill because of their work at rates substantially exceeding those reported by the compensation systems. This despite reporting being mandated by law.

 

Examples of employer suppression actions include: pressure to not submit claims (including direct threats), pressure to minimize or withdraw claims, providing incorrect information on eligibility, or under-reporting of severity (reporting lost time injury as a no-lost-time injury), and wage continuation (instead of filing a claim).

 

Some Financial and Tax Considerations

After notifying the WCB for compensation, it can take time to settle a claim or be declared eligible. Sickness benefits from Employment Insurance could be paid to the worker while awaiting a reply from the WCB, if entitled to these benefits.

 

In such a situation, the employee has to sign an undertaking to repay the benefits. This means they have to repay the total amount of EI received when their claim with the WCB is settled.

 

However there are payments not considered earnings by the Canada Revenue Agency:

·         Lump-sum amounts or pensions paid following a final settlement

·         Payments used to cover injury or illness-related expenses include those for permanent impairment, including a disfigurement or permanent diminished capacity; or for the loss of enjoyment of life directly related to the illness or injury.
 

Other Potential Sources Of Disability Income

Workers’ compensation is but one possible program available for injured and ill employees. Some other benefits to investigate: sick pay from employer; short-term disability; Employment Insurance sickness benefits; long-term disability insurance payouts; Canada Pension Plan disability; disability tax credit, Veterans Affairs Canada disability benefits; and provincial disability benefits or income support programs.

Check with a financial or tax advisor to learn about eligibility – and implications on amounts recipients can receive.

Workplace health and safety practices can sometimes prove faulty. If they do, tap into the programs set up to aid monetarily.