To summarize, the main focus of the new policies is to return injured/ill workers back to work with their injury employer to the extent possible. The Work Reintegration policies integrate the legislative provisions of Early and Safe Return to Work, Re-employment, and Labour Market Re-entry. 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.
I won’t go into more details, you can read my previous blog posts on these topics and the consultation summary report (links provided above), but as a result of the consultations, the policies have been clarified and made easier to use for WSIB staff, employers and employees. Key changes from the consultation include:
- Clarifying of the key concepts and definitions, such as “WR goal” and “suitable” and “available” work, to respect the legislative provisions and further the goals of the work reintegration program
- Adding language about the duration of the co-operation obligations, as well as what factors will not lead to a finding of non-co-operation
- Recognizing the challenges faced by small businesses, such as extending the period of the written notice for non-co-operation from seven to 14 days
- Providing more detail about an employer’s re-employment obligations
- Clarifying that the WSIB will first look to the availability of suitable occupations with the injury employer and the local labour market before looking at the availability of suitable occupations in the broader labour market
- Creating a standalone policy on relocation services.
I am providing you with the links to the seven new Work Reintegration operational and NEER policies (in PDF), which take effect on July 15, 2011.
- Work Reintegration Principles, Concepts and Definitions (Policy #19-02-01)
- Responsibilities of the Workplace Parties in Work Reintegration (Policy #19-02-02)
- Determining Suitable Occupation (Policy #19-03-03)
- Work Transition Plan (Policy #19-03-05)
- Work Transition Expenses (Policy #19-03-06)
- Relocation Services (Policy #19-03-11)
- NEER Policy (Policy #13-02-02)
The WSIB is taking a far more active approach to workplace accommodation and assessment to ensure injured or ill employees are returned to work as early as possible after recovery. Thus, employers should be vigilant in complying with their duty to accommodate, return to work and re-employment obligations under the law.
First Reference Inc. Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor