The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (“WSIB”) has announced its Financial Relief Package under businesses can defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. The deferral applies to businesses irrespective of whether they report and pay monthly, quarterly or annually based on their insurable earnings.
According to the WSIB the following payments are eligible for deferral:
- Monthly: March 31, April 30, May 31, June 30, July 31, Aug 31
- Quarterly: April 30, July 31
- Annual: April 30
Furthermore, no interest will accrue on outstanding premium payments for Schedule 1 businesses and no penalties will be charged during the six-month deferral period. Schedule 2 account balances will not accrue debit interest as part of the financial relief package.
In addition, and importantly, the WSIB has determined that:
…. costs associated with COVID-19 related claims will not be allocated at an employer or class level. Instead, they will be allocated on a Schedule-wide basis and there will be no change in premium rates for 2020.
On March 23, 2020 the WSIB issued a document that outlines their Adjudicative Approach to COVID-19 claims. Like other WSIB claims a worker is entitled to benefits for COVID-19 arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment. The WSIB has noted that:
In determining the work-relatedness of COVID-19 claims, the decision-maker will consider whether:
- the nature of the worker’s employment created a risk of contracting the disease to which the public at large is not normally exposed; and
- the WSIB is satisfied that the worker’s COVID-19 condition has been confirmed. If established, the above will generally be considered persuasive evidence that the worker’s employment made a significant contribution to the worker’s illness.
In terms of gathering evidence, the WSIB has noted that the following factors, among others, may be investigated (though this will depend on the particular case):
1. The nature of the worker’s employment created an elevated risk of contracting COVID-19
• Has a contact source to COVID-19 within the workplace been identified?
• Does the nature and location of employment activities place the worker at risk for exposure to infected persons or infectious substances?
• Was there an opportunity for transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace via a compatible route of transmission for the infectious substance?
2. The worker’s COVID-19 condition has been confirmed
• Are the incubation period, the time from the date of exposure and the onset of illness, clinically compatible with COVID-19 that has been established to exist in the workplace?
• Has a medical diagnosis been confirmed? If not, are the worker’s symptoms clinically compatible with the symptoms produced by COVID-19? Is this supported by an assessment from a registered health professional?
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act does not provide coverage for workers who are symptom-free even when quarantined or sent home on a precautionary basis. Should a symptom-free worker develop symptoms or illness, however, while in quarantine, they may be eligible for WSIB benefits.