B.C. Government passes Bill 14 in bid to tackle
Effective July 1, 2012, the major provisions of the Workers
Compensation Amendment Act, 2011, S.B.C. 2012, c. 23 came into
force amending the Workers Compensation Act (the
The New Mental Disorder Provision
The most significant amendment is the expanded compensation for
mental disorders. The new amendment clarifies that a worker is
entitled to compensation for a "mental disorder," as
opposed to "mental stress." It expands compensation for
mental stress arising from the course of the worker's
employment to go beyond the previous requirement of "an acute
reaction to a sudden and traumatic event" to include a mental
disorder that is either:
(i) a reaction to one or more traumatic events arising out of
and in the course of employment, or
(ii) predominantly caused by a significant work-related stressor,
including bullying or harassment, or a cumulative series of such
stressors, arising out of and in the course of employment.
The mental disorder must be diagnosed by a registered
psychiatrist or psychologist (previously physician or
psychologist). Finally, as has always been the case, in order to be
eligible for compensation, the workplace stressor(s) cannot be
caused by a decision of the worker's employer relating to the
worker's employment, including a decision to change the work to
be performed or working conditions, to discipline the worker, or to
terminate the worker's employment.
These changes apply to all decisions of WorkSafeBC or the
Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal on or after July 1, 2012
including decisions in respect of claims made but not finally
adjudicated before July 1, 2012.
What Does This Mean for Employers in
Employers in B.C. now face additional responsibilities, and
potentially higher costs, as workers suffering mental disorders
caused by "significant work-related stressors," or a
series of traumatic events on the job, may seek compensation
through WorkSafeBC, similar to claims made in relation to workplace
accidents. The legislation now specifically lists harassment and
bullying as behaviours that could trigger such a claim. In the
past, the Act only covered those who suffered mental stress arising
from a sudden or unexpected event, such as an emergency medical
worker shaken by trauma or a bank teller involved in a holdup.
B.C. now joins other provinces – Ontario, Manitoba,
Saskatchewan, and Quebec – which have addressed bullying
and harassment either through changes to health and safety
legislation or employment standards legislation. Federal workers in
Canada have been protected from workplace bullying since 2008
through amendments to the Canada Occupational Health and Safety
Other legislative changes to the Act include:
Adjusted compensation for injured apprentices to a level that
fairly represents their loss of earnings; and
Survivor benefits to common law couples without children after
two years of cohabitation (previously three years).
The full text of the Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2011,
S.B.C. 2012, c. 23 can been viewed here.
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