Saskatchewan's new Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013, is expected to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
The Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board is getting ready for the new legislation. Its policies and procedures, publications and website are being revised. The WCB has also published information sheets telling employers and injured workers about what’s different with our new act.
Here is a summary of the more significant changes that could affect employers.
[strong]Maximum assessable wage rate goes up in 2014
[/strong]• The maximum assessable wage rate for 2014 increases from $55,000 to $59,000. Employers will report your 2014 payroll using $59,000 per employee.
• Starting in 2015, the maximum will be increased in steps until 2019 when it reaches 165% per cent of the provincial average weekly wage.
• From 2020 on, the maximum will be indexed so that it remains at 165 per cent of the provincial average weekly wage.
?Employer duties defined by the new act
The new act has all the employer duties that are in place now:
• Registering your business if you are in a mandatory industry, within 30 calendar days of employing workers.
• Preparing an accurate annual Employer Payroll Statement and sending it to the WCB by Feb. 28 of the year. Employers also can be penalized if they start a business during the year, or have a temporary business during the year, and do not pay their assessment at that time.
• Reporting an injury within five days of becoming aware of it.
• Must not, directly or indirectly, try to prevent an injured worker and an injured worker’s dependants, from reporting an injury or receiving compensation
• Must not deduct WCB premiums from workers’ wages.
The new act adds these employer duties:
• Co-operating to help an injured worker return to work.
• Not knowingly providing false or misleading information to the WCB.
• Must report to WCB when an employee returns to work.
• Reporting to WCB any change in their employee’s status that could impact their entitlement to benefits.?If an employer does not meet these duties, it could lead to a fine and/or a penalty.
[strong]Fines and penalties
[/strong]The WCB wants to work with employers to help them comply with legislation. It views fines and penalties as a last resort for deterring non-compliance, the WCB said. Penalties for failing to register or file a payroll statement will continue to be applied in all cases.
?There are three types of fines and penalties:
• A summary conviction, to a maximum fine of $1,000 pursued by the Crown Prosecutor, on referral from the WCB.
• Discretionary penalties, imposed by WCB. This typically will be a percentage of the cost of the injury claim, or a percentage of the employer’s assessment.
• Administrative penalties imposed by our Board, to a maximum $10,000. These are seen as an escalation of a discretionary penalty, and can be imposed when a summary conviction or discretionary penalty has been imposed or pursued, and the employer continues to intentionally contravene the act.
?It can happen that an employer is unaware of a duty. For that reason, WCB looks at several factors before deciding on a penalty or fine:
• The employer’s intention to contravene the act.
• The severity of the infraction.
• The affect of the infraction on a third party, like the worker.
• A pattern or history of offences.
• The need to establish a deterrence.
• The need to prevent continued non-compliance.
?Once the employer receives notice of a penalty, there is a 30 day period for the employer to send WCB a written explanation for why the penalty should not be imposed and to dispute the amount of the penalty.
?An employer can appeal a penalty to the Court of Queen’s Bench, on a question of law; that is, if the employer believes that WCB made a mistake in law when it made its decision. The appeal must be made within 30 days of receiving the final decision.
?Watch the WCB website, www.wcbsask.com, for more information on the transition to the new act. Employers and workers can email WCB at Ask_WCB@wcbsask.com with any questions or concerns.