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.
COVID-19 decision-making and costs
Decision-making for COVID-19 claims
The WSIB’s Adjudicative Approach Document provides guidance on how WSIB decision-makers will decide whether to allow a COVID-19 claim. These claims are 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 consider several factors including the worker’s employment, their non-work-related activities, and whether they have a diagnosis/positive test or symptoms of COVID-19. The type of mask/personal protective equipment (PPE) a worker wears at work, their decision to wear no mask/PPE at work, and/or their decision not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, has no impact on WSIB decision-making.
Decision-making for adverse reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine
Workers who receive a COVID-19 vaccine as a compulsory part of their employment and who experience an adverse reaction to the vaccine may be eligible to receive WSIB benefits. The WSIB considers a vaccination to be a compulsory part of a worker’s employment if, for example, the employer has a rule or policy requiring workers to be vaccinated. It considers an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine to be both serious and unexpected, beyond what would be expected as a normal reaction to immunization, and includes the types of reactions that should be reported to a local public health unit. The WSIB’s policy on Immunization Against Infectious Disease provides guidance on how WSIB decision-makers will decide whether a worker’s reaction to a COVID-19 vaccination is work-related for the purposes of entitlement.
COVID-19 claims costs
For Schedule 1 employers, WSIB costs that are associated with COVID-19-related claims will be shared on a Schedule-wide basis, instead of being allocated at the employer or class level. These claims will continue to appear on the employer’s accident cost statement and Workplace Injury Summary Reports. The WSIB’s Compass tool has a filter that allows employers to analyze and share their claim information either with or without COVID-19-related claims.
Starting January 1, 2022, Schedule 2 employers will be individually responsible for the full cost of COVID-19-related claims filled by their workers.
WSIB COVID-19 reporting obligations for employers
When a worker has a diagnosis/positive COVID-19 test result or symptoms of COVID-19 but they are unsure if it was contracted at work
If a worker has received a diagnosis/positive test result for COVID-19 or if the worker has symptoms of COVID-19, but they are not sure where they contracted it, and there are no known cases of COVID-19 in your workplace, you are not required to file a Form 7 with the WSIB.
When a worker has a diagnosis/positive COVID-19 test result or symptoms of COVID-19 and believes it was contracted in the workplace
If a worker has received a diagnosis/positive test result for COVID-19 or if the worker has symptoms of COVID-19, and the worker tells the employer they believe they contracted it in the workplace, the employer is required to file a Form 7 with the WSIB even if the employer is unsure whether the illness is work-related
When a worker has a diagnosis/positive COVID-19 test result or symptoms of COVID-19 and you believe there was a potential workplace exposure
If a worker has received a diagnosis/positive test result for COVID-19 or if the worker has symptoms of COVID-19, and the employer has reason to believe there was a potential workplace exposure, the employer is required to file a Form 7 with the WSIB. This may include situations where other workers in your workplace have tested positive for COVID-19, or where a known/suspected contact source for COVID-19 could have exposed your worker to the illness in the workplace.
When a worker experiences an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine
If a worker received a COVID-19 vaccine as a compulsory part of their employment, and if the employer learns that the worker experienced an adverse reaction to the vaccine that required medical treatment beyond first aid and/or caused the worker to be absent from work for more than a few days, the employer must file a Form 7 with the WSIB.
Return to work
When a worker’s COVID-19 vaccination status impacts their return to work
If the only reason an injured/ill worker can’t return to work or participate in a training program is because they are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but they aren’t vaccinated or can’t provide proof of vaccination, this may impact any loss of earnings benefits the worker gets since their vaccination status is not related to their work-related injury/illness.
Ontario’s COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit program
Ontario’s COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit program is separate from the workplace safety and insurance (workers’ compensation) system
The provincial government’s COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit program is an Ontario government program that is being administered by the WSIB. This program is funded by the Ontario government; the WSIB’s insurance fund will not be used to pay for this program. Reimbursement claims submitted under the COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit program will not impact WSIB premium rates.
A WSIB claim will not automatically be filed in situations where an employer applies for reimbursement under the COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit program; please refer to the information above under “WSIB COVID-19 reporting obligations for employers” for information about submitting a WSIB claim related to COVID-19.
When your worker is injured while working from home/offsite
The WSIB considers “remote work” to include temporary/permanent arrangements where the employer directs/allows workers to perform their regular job duties at an authorized location away from the regular workplace. Should a workplace injury arise, employers and workers continue to have the same rights and obligations under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, as they would if the worker was working in the regular workplace.
If your worker tells you they were injured while working from home and required medical treatment beyond first aid, or if they did not require medical treatment but were absent from work, earned less than regular pay, or required modified work at regular pay for more than seven calendar days, you must file a Form 7 with the WSIB. You should file a Form 7 even if you are unsure whether a worker’s injury is work-related so the WSIB can make that determination. The WSIB will consider the same criteria for an injury that occurs at a worker’s home/offsite as it would if the injury occurred in the regular workplace.
When your worker is temporarily/indefinitely working remotely outside of Ontario
If your worker is an Ontario resident who normally works at your Ontario workplace but is temporarily working outside of Ontario, or if your workplace is in Ontario and your worker has relocated outside of Ontario and is working from home indefinitely, feel free to contact the Office of the Employer Adviser at 1-800-387-0774 or email@example.com for further information on your situation. Special coverage rules apply to out-of-province work and, depending on the situation, your worker may not be covered by the WSIB. You may also be required to consult with the workers’ compensation board in the jurisdiction where your worker resides.