Vital Legislative Modifications To The Employees’ Compensation Act Now In Impact – Invoice 47 – Employment and HR


Significant legislative changes to the now applicable Employee Compensation Act – Bill 47

May 19, 2021

McCarthy Tétrault LLP

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A number of amendments to the Alberta Workers Compensation Act (the “Act”) came into effect on January 1, 2021 and April 1, 2021. This blog is a reminder to Alberta employers of the latest legislative changes regarding work-related injuries.

Important legislative changes – effective from January 1, 2021:

Outrageous behavior

In the event that an employee is dismissed from the changed job because of his or her own willful outrageous behavior, the Workers’ Compensation Board (“WCB”) pays benefits as if the changed job were still there and their entitlement to temporary loss of earnings benefits may be reduced or suspended.

To be “egregious behavior”, the worker’s behavior must be extraordinary or obviously bad to a sane person. WCB has stated that circumstances that may involve outrageous behavior include, but are not limited to, a violation of an employer or professional safety standard, rule, or policy; Violence, including aggressive, threatening behavior; sexual harassment or physical assault with coercion, threats, violence; deliberate destruction of property; Fraud or embezzlement.

Reinstatement of the maximum upper limit for the compensable result

A maximum insurable profit cap will be reintroduced. Employees with an accident date on or after January 1, 2021 will be compensated 90% of their annual net income up to a maximum of USD 98,700.

Cost of Living Calculation (COLA)

The WCB calculates the COLA for compensation services as needed and is not automatically adjusted based only on the Alberta Consumer Price Index. Employees entitled to an increase in the cost of living will receive 0.84% ​​from January 1, 2021.

Presumption of psychological injuries

The assumed coverage for traumatic psychological injuries only applies to first aiders, correctional officers and emergency services. If a first responder, correctional officer, or emergency services provider is officially diagnosed with a mental injury after exposure to one or more traumatic events at work, WCB will assume the injury is work related unless proven otherwise.

Traumatic and chronic psychological injuries are also covered for all employees in other occupations for which there are indications that the injury occurred from and during the employment relationship.

Important legislative changes – effective from April 1, 2021:

Cooperation obligation for employees and employers.

Previously, employers were required by law to accept and reinstall most employees injured in an industrial accident in their pre-accident position or in a comparable position with the same income. This obligation has been removed and replaced by the new “obligation to cooperate” which applies to both employers and injured workers.

Employers are required to cooperate in returning their injured workers to work safely, while injured workers are required to cooperate in developing and participating in their medical and professional rehabilitation plans. In addition, employees are now expressly obliged to take reasonable steps to mitigate loss of earnings due to injuries and to work with the employer and the WCB.

Employers are still required to accept disabled workers through human rights law.

Reduced appointment window

Injured workers and employers have one year to appeal a WCB decision to the Alberta Employee Compensation Appeals Board. Previously, the appointment window was 2 years.

Fairness Review and Appeals Advisory Services

Fairness Review Services are provided by the Fairness Review Officer through the Fair Process Review Center.

Fairness Review Services will continue to be available to injured workers and employers free of charge. A Fairness Review Officer reporting directly to the WCB will provide these services.

Appeal counseling services will continue to be available free of charge to injured workers and employers through the Alberta Employee Compensation Appeals Board.

Group health insurance plans

Employers can voluntarily choose to continue to contribute to the plans, but employers no longer have to contribute to health insurance plans for injured workers who are unemployed. An injured worker will receive medical and rehabilitation benefits from WCB in connection with their injury during their working hours. Non-WCB benefits do not fall within the scope of the employee compensation legislation.

Independent medical examiner

Injured workers reserve the right to elect a doctor to perform an independent medical examination if the WCB requests an examination. Injured employees can select the doctor from a list maintained by the WCB.

Details of the changes can be found in invoice 47.

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The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance on the subject. A professional should be obtained about your particular circumstances.

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