Further to our previous article regarding Bill 41, the Workers Compensation Amendment Act (No. 2) (the “Bill”), the BC Government has now published Order in Council No. 342 (the “OIC”), which will bring into force certain provisions of the Bill that were not yet in force.
Most significantly, beginning January 1, 2024, the provisions of the Bill which establish specific legal obligations under the Workers Compensation Act (the “Act”) for employers to return injured workers to work, including a duty to cooperate and to maintain employment, as well as corresponding administrative penalty provisions in the event of a failure to do so, will come into effect. It is important to note that the new return-to-work provisions with respect to the “Duty to Maintain Employment” in particular, will only apply to workplaces that regularly employ 20 or more workers, which should ease some concerns for smaller employers.
WorkSafeBC has yet to engage in its forthcoming consultation process with stakeholders from the broader community regarding the implementation of these new return-to-work provisions. However, the BC Government has announced that WorkSafeBC will be engaging in public consultations in July and August 2023 and that WorkSafeBC is currently developing its policies which will ultimately elaborate upon and direct its application of these provisions.
As noted in our previous article, the Bill and its new provisions slated to come into force on January 1, 2024 in particular, continue to serve as a source of concern for employers. WorkSafeBC’s upcoming consultation process undoubtedly remains a key step to ensuring the effective and realistic future application of the new provisions to BC’s workplaces.
We will continue to monitor WorkSafeBC’s consultation and policy development processes as they progress.