There have been some sweeping changes at the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) this year. Are you ready for the new return-to-work and New Experimental Experience Rating (NEER) policies? And do you know about the soon-to-be effective Bill 160? Come join us at the annual Employment Law Conference to Learn the latest.
One of the main changes involves the WSIB’s return-to-work policies and Labour Market Re-entry Program. The new work reintegration policies formally integrate existing policies on early and safe return-to-work, re-employment and labour market re-entry. These interim work reintegration policies enhance the WSIB early return-to-work program in force as of December 1, 2010.
Under this new approach, the WSIB is phasing out the use of external Labour Market Re-entry case managers. Rather, qualified WSIB staff members will manage injured workers’ pathways to re-employment. The new program will provide injured workers with a sound assessment and training if required that will achieve the goal of equipping workers to return to work with their original employer or in the general labour market. Additionally, the WSIB facilitates training at community colleges and registered private career colleges in vocational programs approved by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, and helps injured workers decide which school best meets their needs.
Another main change is the new NEER policy. Its goal is to extend the NEER window from three to four years beginning with the 2008 accident year. Why the change? The NEER window can directly influence the return-to-work process. The WSIB believes that an expanded NEER window will result in significantly improved work reintegration outcomes, overall cost reductions and fair premiums for employers. This can be accomplished through the improvement of claim durations, employer accountability for return-to-work outcomes and employer co-operation in maximizing recovery and retention by better aligning the NEER review window to the new Work Reintegration Program.
Essentially, the change will result in employers and injured workers being supported by the WSIB in their work reintegration efforts throughout the four-year NEER window.
Lastly, it is important to briefly discuss Bill 160, the Occupational Health and Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2011, and what it means for employers. The Bill received third reading in the Ontario legislature on May 18, 2011. The bulk of the Bill will be effective on royal assent (but there are some exceptions). The goal is to:
- Establish the Ministry of Labour (rather than the WSIB) as the lead for accident prevention
- Appoint a new Chief Prevention Officer to coordinate and align the prevention system
- Create a new prevention council consisting of representatives from labour, employers, and safety experts to advise the Chief Prevention Officer and the minister
- Give 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
We invite business owners and managers who are grappling with workers’ compensation issues in Ontario to see Ryan Conlin’s presentation on Sweeping changes at the WSIB at the 2011 Employment Law Conference. Register—and Learn the latest! (Registrations now closed)
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Editor