BC Government Passes Amendments to the Workers Compensation Act

25. August 2020 0

The BC Government’s Bill 23 – 2020: Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2020 received Royal Assent on August 14, 2020. Bill 23 follows changes to the Workers Compensation Act and WorkSafe Policy Manual and Materials in April of this year. Notable changes to the Workers Compensation Act under Bill 23 include:

  1. Increasing the maximum wage rate for calculating workers’ compensation claims under the Workers Compensation Act from $87,100 to $100,000;
  2. Allowing WorkSafe BC to facilitate treatment for a worker before a claim is accepted;
  3. Allowing workers to access benefits faster if they contract COVID in the workplace;
  4. Allowing WorkSafe BC to extend the limitation period to bring mental health claims beyond one year;
  5. Giving WorkSafe BC powers beyond the ability to levy administrative penalties, including the ability to authorize search and seizure warrants;
  6. Streamlining the charge approval process for prosecuting serious health and safety violations by removing the requirement that the Board of WorkSafe BC must approve a referral to Crown counsel;
  7. Imposing liability on corporate directors for unpaid WorkSafe BC premiums;
  8. Giving courts the power to compel convicted employers to publish facts about their offences in the newspaper or a company-wide newsletter, at the employer’s expense;
  9. Empowering the Board to make a demand on a third party (including a savings institution) regarding an employer’s debt owed to the Board;
  10. Allowing WorkSafe BC to correct or acknowledge obvious errors in decisions beyond the 75-day time limit;
  11. Granting WorkSafe the authority to determine a worker’s retirement, which would allow WorkSafe BC to determine whether someone may work past the age of 65 and continue receiving benefits (this change take effect January 1, 2021); and
  12. Altering the existing test for determining the benefit calculation to ensure workers always receive higher disability payments (this change take effect January 1, 2021);

The above changes have significant implications for employers. Employers are faced with greater exposure to criminal liability and will likely have to pay higher WorkSafe BC premiums. Employers will also have to deal with employees spending longer periods of time off work, and may see increased litigation with respect to WorkSafe BC claims, which will also increase their costs.

This update was authored by Neal Parker. Questions? Comments? Concerns? Contact Neal at nparker@harpergrey.com or anyone else listed on the authors page.