Some business owners in British Columbia may not be pleased that just about every employer must register for and pay insurance premiums to protect injured workers. In BC, even property owners who build their own residences or those who hire casual workers as regular gardeners, domestic workers, nannies and cleaners must register with WorkSafe BC. While it might seem like an unnecessary expense, some argue that employers can see the value of these payments if they consider that the absence of workers’ compensation insurance could require their businesses to be responsible for payment of medical fees that follow on-the-job injuries and rehabilitation.
Another compelling argument for workers’ compensation exists in the fact that an incident that injures several workers can burden the business with astronomical expenses that might compromise profits. Employees who are covered by WorkSafeBC are, except for cases of gross negligence by the employer, generally prohibited from filing personal injury lawsuits against their employers in exchange for the coverage they enjoy at no cost regardless of negligence or fault.
When it comes to the responsibilities of employers toward employees, WorkSafeBC mandates that employers must provide safe work environments. In addition, employers must involve employees in establishing safe workplaces and take reasonable steps to eliminate known hazards that could cause occupational illness or injury. Employers must keep insurance premium payments up to date, and they must report injuries to safety authorities. Furthermore, employers have to take steps to facilitate the return to work of employees who have recovered sufficiently.
The WorkSafe BC workers’ compensation regime and BC employers’ corresponding obligations are broad in scope. Business owners may wish to secure the services of an experienced employment law lawyer to assist in understanding the regime and make sure they comply with British Columbia employment laws and workers’ compensation requirements. A lawyer can provide answers to questions and deal with any legal claims that might arise.