Some interesting changes are coming our way in relation to Bill 30-An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans. Not only are there going to be changes to the way Occupational Health and Safety is regulated, but there will be changes to the administration of the Workers Compensation Board as well. Some changes include:
Obligation to return to work and duty to accommodate
Employers now have an obligation to return their employees who suffered injuries and illnesses in their workplaces to work, unless it imposes an undue hardship. This obligation does not remove a worker’s rights under the Alberta Human Rights Act around accommodation.
Following other jurisdictions in Canada, the changes to the Act will enshrine the obligation of an employer to return employees to work.
- When a worker is medically able to perform the essential duties of the worker’s pre-accident employment, the employer must:
- offer to re-employ the worker in the position that was held before the accident or
- provide alternate employment of a similar nature and at the earnings comparable to the worker’s employment at the time of the accident
- WCB would be responsible for addressing concerns about return to work.
“Deeming” is a process where the WCB reduces a worker’s benefits by identifying a job it believes the worker could be doing and the level of income that the worker could be earning from the job.
In the past, “deeming” resulted in some workers not receiving the level of benefits they should have received based on a fair evaluation of their experience, skills and training.
The changes will introduce provisions so the deeming process used by the WCB would be a last resort after other options – obligation to return to work, job search and retraining – have been exhausted
Injured workers will have more choice in selecting a physician if they needed a medical examination. This would give injured workers the ability to better manage their own health care.
- Injured workers would be able to initiate the medical panel process.
- Health professionals other than physicians would be able to participate as advisors to the medical panels.
- An informal medical dispute resolution process would be established to ensure timely consideration of disputes
For assistance in preparing for the changes, contact us for more information.