Overview of Bill 41 amendments
Bill 41, Workers Compensation Amendment Act (No. 2), 2022, received royal assent on November 24, 2022. The new legislation introduced seven amendments to better support workers in British Columbia. Here’s what you need to know.
By Gillian Burnett
What do these amendments relate to?
The seven amendments relate to a variety of sections of the Workers Compensation Act (the Act).
Which amendments are already in effect?
Three of the amendments took effect on November 24, 2022. These amendments change how workers’ compensation benefits are indexed for inflation each year, allow WorkSafeBC to increase the maximum compensation for non-traumatic hearing loss, and expand WorkSafeBC’s ability to prohibit employers from suppressing workers’ compensation claims.
Of these three amendments, the indexation change has been fully implemented. Consultations on the hearing‑loss amendment were held in 2022 and the Board of Directors approved related policy changes on January 25, 2023. With respect to claim suppression, WorkSafeBC is examining options for enforcement and developing education campaigns to help employers and workers understand what claim suppression is and how to counter it.
What is claim suppression?
Section 73 of the Act provides that an employer must not engage in claim suppression, which occurs when an employer discourages a worker from filing a compensation claim or punishes them for doing so. It states that an employer or supervisor must not seek to discourage, impede, or dissuade a worker or their dependants from reporting an injury to WorkSafeBC — be it by agreement, threat, promise, inducement, persuasion, or any other means.
Bill 41 adds the provision that it is a violation of the Act for an employer to persuade or attempt to persuade a worker to give up their right to claim or receive compensation benefits. Under Section 102, claim suppression is subject to penalties including fines up to $777,601 and jail terms.
What do the other amendments relate to?
Two further amendments come into effect on April 3, 2023. The first allows workers and employers who have appealed a decision to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) to request a review by an independent health professional. The second requires WorkSafeBC to pay interest on compensation benefits determined payable by the Review Division or WCAT. Interest will be paid on the amount that remains unpaid for at least 180 days after the date entitlement to the benefit started.
The sixth amendment, creating the position of fair practices commissioner, will come into effect May 1, 2023. The fair practices commissioner will be appointed by WorkSafeBC’s Board of Directors.
The seventh and final amendment adds a legal duty for workers and employers to cooperate in the worker’s early and safe return to work, along with an obligation for employers to return injured workers to work. This amendment will come into force by regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in council, at a date to be determined.
For updates on Bill 41, please visit worksafebc.com/bill41.
This information originally appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of WorkSafe Magazine. To read more or to subscribe, visit WorkSafe Magazine.