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Most employers in the province are subject to mandatory coverage, except for those who have a total of fewer than 3 people involved in the business. That means that a business with only 1 or 2 people – including owners – are exempt from mandatory coverage. These rules also apply to agri-business owners.
Workers’ compensation premiums vary widely based on industry classification. Over time, businesses also get an ‘experience rating’, which is a discount for workplaces with lower-than-average accident rates, or an additional premium for higher-than-average accident rates. WCB publishes their rates annually, which can be found on their web site. Premiums are based on gross payroll figures.
It goes without saying that employers want to pay as little as possible for their WCB assessments. While there are complex actuarial models that actually set rates based on industry experience and other factors, there are several ways for employers to ensure that they do what they can to avoid paying more than necessary over time.
Generally, employees within the same organization are subject to the same classification across the company. Since rates are set based on industry codes, all staff attract the same rates regardless of position (eg. a sawmill operator would attract the same rates as the corresponding salesperson, even though their risk of serious injury may be significantly different).
In rare exception, a business can seek to have multiple classification codes, but there are specific conditions that must be satisfied. Essentially, it must be shown that each ‘part’ of the business is self-sufficient (can stand on its own) and that it makes up a significant portion of the overall business.
5. How can I report abuse of the system?
We often hear from employers who suspect there may be foul play with regard to a claim that could impact their experience rating. This is a difficult area to advise on, simply because many of these allegations are based on hearsay and are hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Workers’ compensation systems are set up in such a way that gives the benefit of doubt to injured workers, therefore strong evidence of wrong-doing is needed before an investigation can proceed.
Having said that, we are mindful of how abuse of the system impacts every employer’s bottom line. In situations where fraud is suspected, a report should nonetheless be made both to the compensation board and to CFIB’s Business Resources Department. We encourage members when reporting suspected fraud to WCB that they advise their complaint will also be given to CFIB. This encourages additional accountability and documentation, even if the allegation turns out to be unproven.
In addition to workplace health and safety training and resources, one of the most important benefits to the employer community is the fact that having WCB coverage provides immunity from litigation on behalf of an injured worker. It should be noted, however, that charges can still arise from negligence if health and safety requirements are not followed properly that result in a severe accident or death.