Shawnee Love • February 6, 2024
The latest update to WorkSafeBC’s regulations is good news if you ask me.
January 1, 2024, WorkSafeBC officially implemented two new requirements:
- For employers (with more than 20 workers), the duty to maintain employment, and
- For employees (and employers), the duty to cooperate in returning employees to suitable work in a timely and safe fashion.
The duty to maintain employment in the event of injury is not new to most employers. We already have the obligation to accommodate physical and mental injuries, illnesses, and conditions under the Human Rights Act. Reinforcing this duty is the right thing to do for the minority of employers that aren’t already on board.
What is new is the government mandating employees to cooperate in the return-to-work program. It remains to be seen how WorkSafeBC will manage this process, but I have found it comes as a surprise to many people that they can and should return to work (even gradually) if the doctor’s prognosis allows for it.
We know that folks who go off work on illness or injury can become disconnected from the workplace, and the longer they are away, the harder it is to get them back. This new regulation is a positive step towards supporting re-integration and gradual return to full capacity for folks hurt on the job.
I also love the foundation that predicates these new requirements. I.e., Work is good for us (as long as it is done safely) and people recovering can and should contribute to their organizations while rebuilding confidence and capability.
As someone who has been badly injured and had to push through a long and painful recovery, having something to get up for each day, and something to focus on when pushing through pain and frustration made all the difference.
If you want help managing injury and illness leaves from work, or implementing these changes in your organization, we are here to help.