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 WSIB is posting updates on its website that employers should be aware of. Key updates are included below. We encourage you to visit the WSIB’s website for the most complete and up-to-date information.
WSIB financial relief package
Payment obligations can be deferred for Schedule 1 employers
Schedule 1 businesses may defer their premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. During the deferral period, interest will not accrue on outstanding premium payments and penalties will not be charged. All businesses that have WSIB coverage are automatically eligible for this financial relief package. Businesses are not required to participate in this financial relief package.
Payment obligations can be deferred for Schedule 2 employers
All payment obligations for Schedule 2 businesses are also automatically eligible for deferral until August 31, 2020, and account balances will not accrue debit interest during the deferral period. Businesses are not required to participate in this financial relief package.
Clearance certificates will be renewed for most employers
The WSIB has said that during the deferral period most employers with active WSIB accounts are eligible to receive clearance certificates, even if they have outstanding premium, reconciliation years, and overdue balances. Accounts that have a write-off balance or are inactive will not receive clearance certificates.
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. The WSIB says it does not plan to change 2020 premium rates.
Timelines for objecting to a WSIB decision, reporting work-related injuries/illnesses, reporting material changes, and filing a WSIB claim
Time limits for objections to WSIB decisions will not apply during Ontario’s state of emergency
The usual 30-day time limit to object to a return to work, work transition or re-employment decision, and the six-month time limit to object to all other WSIB claim or account decisions, will not apply as long as Ontario’s COVID-19 state of emergency is in effect. Employers who wish to object to a WSIB decision should let the WSIB know as soon as possible, but an objection will not be denied just because a time limit was missed between March 16, 2020 and the end of Ontario’s state of emergency.
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 employers are unable to do so because of Ontario’s state of emergency, the WSIB will use its discretion on a case-by-case basis to consider extending this time limit.
Employers should continue to report material changes within ten days
The WSIB’s expectation is that employers (and injured/ill workers) will continue to report a material change in circumstances to the WSIB within ten days of the change. If employers (or workers) are unable to do so because of Ontario’s state of emergency, the WSIB will use its discretion on a case-by-case basis to consider extending this time limit. Employers who have made material changes to their businesses, including changes to their business activity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, must report these changes to the WSIB.
Six-month time limit for workers to file a claim will not apply during Ontario’s state of emergency
The six-month time limit to file a claim for WSIB benefits resulting from a workplace injury or illness will not apply while Ontario’s COVID-19 state of emergency is in effect.