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WCB - frequently asked questions

1. Do I have to be covered under workers' compensation?

2. How much will this cost me?

3. How can I reduce my premiums?

4. Can I have more than one classification for my business?

5. How can I report abuse of the system?

6. What’s in it for me?

 

1. Do I have to be covered under workers' compensation?

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. 

2. How much will this cost me?

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. 

3. How can I reduce my premiums?

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.

  • Offer practical, relevant safety training to all staff on an ongoing basis. Disciplinary measures for staff that do not follow established safety procedures is encouraged. Please visit the Member section on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS).
  • Ensure that you are classified correctly. WCB classifies businesses based on their primary business activities. There are many different industry codes that attract different rates. Your Member Services Counsellor can discuss what types of industries and businesses are classified similarly, and what other industry codes exist. While classification is generally done correctly, there is the odd circumstance in which a business has been misclassified. It is important to remember that while drawing attention to one’s classification, there is always the potential to be reclassified into a higher rate-paying category, so caution should be exercised.
  • Work closely with WCB staff when a case arises. No employer wants to ever see a worker get injured on the job, but if workplace accident arises, it should be dealt with immediately. Employers need to be aware of their reporting requirements to WCB (listed below) when an accident occurs and ensure that all details are provided.
    Further, if an injured worker is away from the workplace for an extended period of time, it is in the employer’s best interest to maintain an appropriate line of communication with that worker to ensure that all parties are constantly aware of expectations and timelines, to minimize the absence as much as possible.
  • Work with the employee, case manager and with others in your business or industry to put in place a safe and early return-to-work policy for an employee who has been injured. Bringing back employees swiftly and safely will not only save your business in ongoing claims costs, but research has shown it is in the best interest of the employee, too. The longer they remain off the job; the more difficult it becomes to return and the greater impact it has on their life. Even if the employee cannot return immediately to their previous role, work with the case manager to find a role they can safely fulfill – it will be cost-effective for your business and speed up the recovery process for your employee. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. 

4. Can I have more than one classification for my business?

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. 

6. What’s in it for me?

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.