WSIB Finalizes Work Reintegration (WR) polices and NEER
As previously mentioned in our earlier newsletter, WSIB finalized the Work Reintegration (WR) policies including changes to employers covered under the New Experimental Experience Rating (NEER) plan.
Under the new policies, there is a strong central focus in returning injured workers back to the accident employer. Whether short term modified work cases or permanent impairment, WSIB’s mandate is to maintain the employee / employer relationship. The accident employer must make all reasonable accommodations to reintegrate the worker back to work to the point of undo hardship imposed under the Ontario Human Right Commission. In addition, WSIB will be enforcing employers obligations to re-employ and where warranted impose fines under section 41(13) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.
Employers are encouraged to revisit their internal WSIB Early and Safe Return-to-Work policy to ensure applicable updates are incorporated. Educating front line staff will also be critical to ensuring compliance under the new changes.
NEER Window Extended To Four Years
The NEER policy extends the NEER window from three to four years beginning with the 2008 injury year. With the new NEER policy, employers will see a change on their December 2011 quarterly NEER statement reflecting the change from a three-year to a four-year window.
The WSIB believes that an expanded NEER window will result in significantly improved work reintegration outcomes, overall cost reductions and fair premiums for employers. These changes align themselves with the new Work Reintegration program principles.
Construction Changes to CAD-7
The WSIB initiated a year-long Funding Review to address concerns regarding the size of the unfunded liability (UFL) which is reported to be approximately $12 billion in March 2010.
The review is being chaired by Professor Harry Arthur who has been consulting with workers, employers and other stakeholders. Professor Arthurs will provide a report to WSIB with recommendations by the end of this year.
One of the expected recommendations is significant changes to the construction CAD-7 experience rating plan. At this time details are still not known, however the CAD-7 is expected to be significantly overhauled.
As details are released, we will keep you updated.
Occupational Health and safety-Bill 160 Update
In August 2011 Ontario appointed George Gritziotis as the province's first Chief Prevention Officer as part of its commitment to workplace health and safety.
The creation of the Chief Prevention Officer was one of the key recommendations in a December 2010 report from an expert panel mandated to review Ontario's workplace health and safety system. One of the key aspects of Bill 160 gives the Minister of Labour oversight of the province’s health and safety associations as well as the education, training and promotion of workplace health and safety.
On June 1, 2011, Bill 160 received Royal Assent. The Bill amends both the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997. It puts in place a legislative framework enabling the Ministry of Labour to implement the Expert Advisory Panel’s priority recommendations. Key among these is the transfer of responsibility for occupational injury and illness prevention from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to the Ministry of Labour.