Home Workplace Legislation/Press Releases New WorkSafeBC regulations mandate employer-worker co-operation in return-to-work processes

New WorkSafeBC regulations mandate employer-worker co-operation in return-to-work processes

by HR Law Canada

Effective Jan. 1, 2024, WorkSafeBC is introducing significant changes to the return-to-work requirements for employers and workers, aimed at ensuring a timely and safe transition back to work following injuries. This move comes as part of an ongoing effort to enhance workplace safety and rehabilitation processes.

Mandatory co-operation for a safer return to work

Under the new regulations, both employers and workers are mandated to actively cooperate in creating a conducive environment for injured workers’ reintegration into the workplace.

This cooperative approach necessitates maintaining open lines of communication, identifying suitable work positions for injured workers, providing necessary information to WorkSafeBC to aid the return-to-work process, and fulfilling other related tasks as required by WorkSafeBC.

Significantly, these requirements are not limited by the size of the company and are applicable to all employers and workers. They pertain to claims for injuries occurring from January 1, 2022, and onwards.

Duty to maintain employment for larger employers

A notable aspect of the new mandate is the specific duty placed on larger employers, defined as those with a workforce of 20 or more.

These employers are required to maintain the employment of workers who have been with the company for at least a year prior to their injury. The regulation obliges employers to adapt the workplace and work conditions to accommodate the returning worker, unless such changes result in undue hardship for the employer.

In cases where the injured worker is unable to resume their original role but is fit for other work, the employer must offer the first appropriate vacancy that arises.

This part of the legislation will be applicable to injury claims filed from July 1, 2023, onwards.

Compliance and support measures

While many employers have already been practicing effective return-to-work strategies, the recent amendments to the Workers Compensation Act now formalize these practices.

WorkSafeBC acknowledges potential challenges in compliance and promises to engage with and support employers facing difficulties. However, in cases of non-compliance, the organization may resort to escalation measures or penalties as per the legislation.

Additionally, workers failing to comply with the new requirements risk having their wage loss benefits reduced or suspended. This reform is a clear indication of WorkSafeBC’s commitment to fostering safer and more accommodating workplaces for injured workers.

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