Workers' Compensation A worker injured by work, or sick with a disease caused by work has the right to medical assistance, the right to income replacement and the right to rehabilitation and a return to work. Québec's Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases (Loi sur les accidents du travail et les maladies professionnelles) describes these rights and explains how a worker might qualify. Workers' rights listed in the Act are administered by the province's Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST). CSST decides, according to the Act, whether or not a worker qualifies for these rights, and decides specifically which rights the worker qualifies for.
What compensation can a worker with a work injury or illness receive? Health care costs - CSST might compensate an injured or ill worker for the cost of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and chiropractor services, prescription drugs, and prescription orthotics and prosthesis, travel, accommodation and other expenses for medical appointments.
CSST refunds health care costs to a worker after the worker sends the receipts to CSST. Before paying for any health cost, though, a worker should check with CSST to make certain that CSST will compensate the worker for that particular health care cost.
Wage loss - When recovery from an injury or illness keeps a worker from going to work, the employer pays the worker 90% of her or his wages for the first 14 days of work missed. It is also the employer who pays the worker her or his full day of wages for the day the worker is injured. Starting on the 15th day of work missed, the worker is paid 90% of her or his wages by CSST.
Permanent physical or psychological injury - In addition to wage loss compensation, CSST might pay a worker a sum of money as compensation for a permanent psychological injury or permanent physical injury.
Worker's death - When a worker dies from an occupational disease or an injury caused by work, the worker's dependents might receive compensation from CSST.
Rehabilitation - A worker with a permanent physical or psychological disability from a work injury or illness has the right to rehabilitation. Physical and social rehabilitation, as well as occupational or work related rehabilitation, is organized according to the worker's needs. The goals of rehabilitation are to return the worker to work and to bring the worker autonomy.
Return to work - A worker injured at work, or ill because of work, has the right to return to work, under certain conditions. If the workplace has 20 or fewer workers, the worker has the right to return to work within a year of the day of the injury or illness. If the workplace has 21 or more workers, the worker has the right to return to work within two years of the date of the injury or illness. A worker has the right to return to her or his pre-injury or pre-illness work, or to different but equivalent work with the same employer. A worker keeps her or his seniority and benefits. If the worker earns less after the injury or illness, then CSST pays the worker the difference between the new wage and the wage the worker used to earn. In other words, with the CSST's compensation, the worker continues to earn the same wage as she or he did before the injury or illness.
Sometimes a worker is fired or disciplined because of a work injury or illness, for exercising workers' right to compensation, or for exercising workers' right to return to work. A worker who suspects that she or he has been fired for one of these reasons can make a complaint to CSST, or to the worker's union. CSST can be reached, free of charge, at 1-800-667 7585.
Are all workers covered by workers' compensation? Not all workers are covered. Workers who are not covered, except under special conditions, include domestic workers - that is, workers working in a household and engaged in childcare, housework, or care for a person who is aged or disabled; volunteer workers; and self-employed workers.
When a worker is injured, what should she or he do? An injured worker should get first aid and immediately report the injury to the supervisor. Next, the worker sees a doctor, letting the doctor know that the injury is a work injury. At workplaces without first aid, or if an injury requires it, the injured worker sees a doctor immediately.
When the injured worker meets with the doctor, the worker should tell the doctor how the injury is work related. By giving a detailed account of the incident, the worker can give the doctor all the facts needed to complete the medical report for CSST. Information on equipment and hazardous materials might be important for the medical report as well.
To fully describe the injury, the worker can tell the doctor not only about the main injury, but about minor ones as well; for instance, a twisting of the back or bruises to other parts of the body when there's a broken arm after a fall. One work injury sometimes can lead to another injury.
After an accident, an injury may not be obvious at first, some injuries develop over time. Some occupational illnesses, like bronchitis or repetitive strain injury, also develop over time. A worker's notes on her of his minor work injuries, illnesses and accidents can be used to later trace how work may have caused or played a significant part in a more serious injury or illness.
Unions are interested in workers' accounts of accidents, injuries and illnesses in the workplace. By collecting information from workers, a union can judge whether to recommend such measures as worker training, the use of safety equipment or equipment repair in improving health and safety in the workplace.
How can a worker get compensation? If a worker cannot return to work after the day of the accident, the worker gets a medical certificate from her or his doctor, and gives the medical certificate to the employer. The employer fills in the form "Employer's Notice and Reimbursement Claim", and on the form, the worker describes the work accident from her or his point of view. The "Employer's Notice and Reimbursement Claim" allows the worker to get compensation for a maximum of 14 days of work missed, starting the day after the accident.
If the worker needs compensation for health care costs, whether or not the worker has missed work, or misses more than 14 days of work because of a work injury or illness, or is not working but has an old work injury or illness that is returning, or works as a volunteer and gets injured or sick because of work, then the worker fills in the form Réclamation du travailleur (PDF). A friend, co worker, or family member can fill in the form with the worker. Detailed instructions are included with the online form. Phone numbers for regional CSST offices are listed on the form if the worker has questions. A unionized worker can go to her or his union with questions on filling in the form, or for assistance.
What should the worker do while off from work because of a work injury or illness? It is important for the worker:
- To keep in contact with the doctor or other health care provider, attend all medical appointments, follow all medical instruction and take all medical exams that are legally sanctioned by the employer and CSST within the proper time limits
- To talk with the doctor or other health care provider about when it is safe to return to work
- To take detailed notes on CSST-related conversations with the employer, CSST, doctors and other health service providers
- To keep records of the names of doctors and other health service providers, health service appointments and treatments, health service providers' notes, health expenses and time taken off work
- To keep all receipts for expenses related to the work injury or illness for possible compensation from CSST
- To keep in contact with CSST and discuss plans and the actual date the worker can return to work
- To let the employer know when the worker can return to work and discuss with the employer the work that suits the worker's abilities during recovery
- To keep copies of letters and information that the injured or ill worker sends to CSST
- To give CCST the information necessary for the worker to get compensation, including changes to the worker's medical condition, employment information, and the worker's same sex or different sex spousal arrangements, according to tax laws
What can a worker do if she or he disagrees with CSST's decision? A worker can appeal CSST's decision. This means a worker can ask CSST to change its decision. The decision concerns whether or not the worker receives benefits, the type of benefits the worker receives, and the amount and length of time the worker receives benefits.
A worker who is unionized can contact her or his union for assistance and advice on appealing a CSST decision. A worker who is not a member of a union can contact CSST. The number, free of charge, is 1-800-667 7585.
COMMISSION DE LA SANTÉ ET DE LA SÉCURITÉ DU TRAVAIL 1199, rue de Bleury
C.P. 6056, Succursale «centre-ville»
Montréal QC H3C 4E1