While the holistic approach to Alberta’s Bill 43, the “Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act, 2020” as it relates to amending the Worker’s Compensation Act seems sound, it does leave some consulting questions regarding its impact to those organizations with a benefit plan. 

In reviewing the April 1st, 2021 implementation of the “Requirement for employers to contribute to health benefit plans”, it would seem on first blush this may be cut and dried for employers. If an employee is off on a WCB claim, benefits cease…but:

  • Does this only apply to people off due to WCB claims that have been approved?
  • What is the expectation while someone is in the approval stage?

The April 1st, 2021 implementation of removing the “Employers obligation to reinstate injured works and accommodate disabled workers” seems to fly in the face of other legislation, which they highlight in the document. This may make one wonder why this would be included, knowing “employers have a duty to accommodate disabled workers through human rights legislation”. 

Some critical questions employers should be seeking counsel on may include:

  • What about non WBC related medical leaves? Typically, if you have to continue benefits or accommodate a reinstatement through other statute, would an employer be able to apply this legislation to any WCB claim? Would this be considered discrimination?
  • How will employment contracts, and corporate policies need to be drafted to accommodate this, taking into consideration, employment standards, human right legislation, etc.?

As we consider what may be the legal ramifications to an employer who strictly relied upon this as their tool for a guideline, it strengths the need for consulting expert advice. Legal, accounting, human resources and policy guideline experts, like Policy Protec work to ensure whatever guideline and policy tools used are well-rounded to mitigate risk and most importantly, always kept up-to-date.

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