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The OEA continues to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our expert staff members are available to assist you with any questions you may have about workplace safety and insurance matters under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, and/or unlawful reprisal allegations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

 

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is posting updates on its website that employers should be aware of. Key updates are included below. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) and the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) also have updates on their websites explaining the operational changes they have made as a result of the COVID-19 situation. We encourage you to visit the WSIB’s website, the WSIAT’s website, and the OLRB’s website for the most complete and up-to-date information.

Please feel free to contact the OEA if you have any questions.

 

WSIB financial relief package

 

WSIB financial relief package ended August 31, 2020

The WSIB’s financial relief package, which allowed Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 employers to defer payments to the WSIB as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ended on August 31, 2020.

 

Regular reporting and payment resumed September 1, 2020

For Schedule 1 employers that took advantage of the financial relief package, regular monthly and quarterly reporting and payment schedules resumed as of September 1, 2020.

For Schedule 2 employers that took advantage of the financial relief package, as of September 1, 2020, all charges that are applied to a Schedule 2 employer’s account are due on the normal payment cycle as outlined on the invoice received from the WSIB.

 

Deferred amounts must be paid by June 30, 2021

Employers that deferred payments under the WSIB’s financial relief package will have until June 30, 2021, to repay the outstanding deferred amount. The WSIB has advised that deferred amounts can be repaid in one or more installments and there will be no interest applied on any deferred amounts owing prior to June 30, 2021.

 

 

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program

Contact the WSIB to request a retroactive adjustment if you have reported CEWS program funding to the WSIB that you are eligible to deduct from your insurable earnings

The WSIB has announced that employers who qualify for the CEWS program and are receiving that funding to pay workers who are on leave and not working are not required to report the funds they receive through the CEWS program as insurable earnings for those workers. Employers that previously included such earnings in their reported insurable earnings from March 15, 2020 onwards can request that a retroactive adjustment be made to their account. If a retroactive adjustment puts your account balance in a credit position, you can request a refund.

Employers that are eligible to deduct funds they received through the CEWS program from their insurable earnings should complete and submit a CEWS exemption worksheet to the WSIB. When completing the worksheet, the deduction should be made for the period in which the employer received this subsidy.

Completed CEWS worksheets and refund requests can be sent to employeraccounts@wsib.on.ca

COVID-19 claims

 

COVID-19 decision-making

The WSIB has created an Adjudicative Approach Document to provide guidance on how WSIB decision-makers will decide whether to allow a COVID-19 claim. These claims will be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the worker’s COVID-19 condition is work-related. In making this determination, the decision-maker will generally consider a number of factors including:

  • the nature of the worker’s employment and whether this increased the worker’s risk of contracting COVID-19, and
  • whether the worker’s COVID-19 condition has been confirmed.

The Adjudicative Approach Document explains that the key issue in assessing whether the worker’s COVID-19 is work-related “is whether the worker’s employment duties or requirements were a significant contributing factor in the worker contracting COVID-19.”

 

COVID-19 claims costs will be shared

WSIB costs that are associated with COVID-19-related claims will be “allocated on a Schedule-wide basis,” instead of being allocated at the employer or class level.

 

 

Timelines for objecting to a decision, filing a WSIB claim, and reporting work-related injuries/illnesses

 

Regular time limits for objections to decisions resumed September 14, 2020

The time limit to appeal a WSIB decision was temporarily suspended effective March 16, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This time limit started to run again on September 14, 2020. Please feel free to contact the OEA if you have any questions about the process for determining how much time you have to object to a particular WSIB decision.

 

Six-month time limit for workers to file a claim resumed September 14, 2020 

The six-month time limit for a worker to file a claim for WSIB benefits resulting from a workplace injury or illness was suspended effective March 16, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This six-month time limit started to run again on September 14, 2020.

 

Employers should continue to report all work-related injuries/illnesses within three days

The WSIB’s expectation is that employers will continue to report all work-related injuries or illnesses to the WSIB within the usual three-day time limit. If an employer is unable to do so because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WSIB will use its discretion on a case-by-case basis to consider extending this time limit. The employer must, however, provide the WSIB with an explanation of why it was unable to meet the time limit.

 

Injury/Illness reporting obligations for employers

 

When a worker has a diagnosis or symptoms of COVID-19

If a worker has received a diagnosis of COVID-19, or has symptoms of COVID-19, the employer must file a Form 7 with the WSIB if,

  1. the worker believes they contracted the illness at work, even if the employer disagrees, or
  2. the employer has reason to believe there was a potential workplace exposure, e.g., other workers in the workplace have tested positive or there was a known/suspected contact source.

 

When the WSIB has informed the employer that a Form 6 or Form 8 has been filed

The employer must file a Form 7 with the WSIB if the WSIB has informed the employer that a claim has been established because a Form 6 (Worker’s Report of Injury/Disease) or a Form 8 (Healthcare Professional’s Report) has been filed.

 

When a worker does not have a diagnosis or symptoms of COVID-19, but was exposed to the illness in the workplace

Employers are not required to file a Form 7 if a worker does not have a diagnosis of COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19. In such circumstances, the worker and/or employer may choose to file an exposure incident report through the WSIB’s Program for Exposure Incident Reporting (PEIR) for non-construction workers, or Construction Exposure Incident Reporting (CEIR) for construction workers. These are voluntary reporting programs that will enable the WSIB to process a claim more quickly if a worker later becomes ill from COVID-19.

 

When a worker tells the employer they have been injured while working from home

If a worker tells the employer that they have suffered an injury/illness while working from home, and the employer is unsure whether the injury/illness is work-related, the employer should file a Form 7 so the WSIB can make that determination. Work-relatedness will be determined by looking at the facts of each case, and considering the criteria relating to place, time, and activity as identified in OPM Doc. No. 15-02-02, Accident in the Course of Employment.

Please note: It is the WSIB’s responsibility to determine whether an injury/illness is work-related and whether a claim should be allowed. Employers who disagree with a WSIB decision may choose to appeal. 

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