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Workers' compensation in Nova Scotia: 5 things you need to know

The Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB) is a Crown corporation that oversees the implementation and application of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Workers' Compensation Act, and the Firefighters' Compensation Regulations. Here are the top five things to know about dealing with the board.

  1. Does my business need to have WCB coverage?
    Businesses with three or more employees are subject to mandatory WCB coverage. For incorporated businesses, officers and owners count as employees. In a sole proprietorship, the owner and their spouse are not counted as employees.
  2. How much will it cost?
    Workers’ compensation premiums vary widely, based on your industry. WCB classifies businesses based on their primary business activities. Once you are classified, you will pay the premium stated per $100 of gross payroll. Over time, you may also get an ‘experience rating’, which is a discount for workplaces with below-average accident rates, or an additional premium for above-average accident rates. WCB publishes their rates annually, which can be found on their web site.
  3. What do premiums pay for?
    The majority of costs incurred to the WCB system go to compensate and rehabilitate injured workers. These costs are covered only by employers (who entirely fund the system through premiums) and are largely based on two things:

    - How many people get injured
    - How long they are off the job.
    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 you with protection from lawsuits from an injured worker.

  4. How can I reduce my premiums?
    While rates are set based on industry experience and other factors, there are several ways employers can ensure they avoid paying more than necessary:
    - Offer practical, relevant safety training to all staff on an ongoing basis.
    - Ensure that you are classified correctly.
    - Actively manage any claims and cooperate with WorksafeNB.
    - Implement and use a Return to Work program.

  5. Are there services available to help employers?

    Yes! The Office of Employer Advisor Nova Scotia (OEA) assists employers in matters concerning workers' compensation claims through advice and representation on issues before WCBNS and in particular during the appeals process.