Workers' Compensation A worker injured by work, or sick with a disease caused by work, might qualify for workers' compensation benefits. Saskatchewan's Workers' Compensation Act explains which workers qualify, and the benefits for which a worker qualifies. In Saskatchewan, workers' compensation is administered by the province's Workers' Compensation Board (WCB). WCB decides, according to the Act, whether or not a worker receives compensation, and decides what the worker gets compensation for.
What compensation can a worker with a work injury or illness receive from WCB? Medical payments - WCB might pay the bills for appointments with physicians, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, psychologists, physical therapists and other practitioners of healing arts registered or licensed in the province. WCB also might pay the bills for prescription drugs, dental work, replacement glasses, braces, orthopedic and prosthetic aids and other health care costs. Some costs may have to be paid up front by the worker. These costs might be refunded by WCB after the worker sends it the receipts. To learn whether or not a particular medical cost will be refunded by WCB, a worker can call WCB.
Even if a worker doesn't lose time from work because of the work injury, WCB might make medical payments towards the worker's recovery.
Wage loss benefits - WCB might pay a worker 90% of her or his wages in wage loss benefits when a work injury or illness keeps the worker from going to work. Wage loss benefits are paid also to a worker who goes to work, but doesn't earn as much as she or he used to earn because the work is different, or because the hours are fewer. Wage loss benefits continue until the worker's injury no longer keeps her or him from earning less than she or he used to earn before the injury.
The amount of wage loss benefits received by a worker depends on many calculations. A worker should receive her or his first wage loss benefit cheque from WCB no longer than 14 days after reporting the injury to WCB. Wage loss benefits begin the next working day after the day of the injury, and are sent to the worker every two weeks.
A worker can receive a sum of money as compensation for a permanent impairment, like the loss of use of a limb. This sum of money may be paid in addition to wage loss benefits, or it may be paid when the worker doesn't lose wages. WCB also may pay the cost of some services in an independence allowance or as special services to workers whose injury results in permanent impairment.
Benefits to dependents - When a worker dies from an occupational disease or an injury caused by work, the worker's dependents receive compensation from WCB.
Vocational services - Vocational services might be offered by WCB to a worker who cannot return to her or his work because of an injury. Vocational services include a return to work service with career counseling, training in work search skills, work search assistance, and work training. Through a service called "modified return to work", WCB may pay for special equipment at the injured worker's workplace so that the worker can do her or his work.
Are all workers covered by workers' compensation? Workers who aren't always covered by workers' compensation are those workers employed in industries that don't have to register with WCB. Click here to find who's eligible. In industries that have to register with the Workers Compensation Board, full time, part time, and seasonal workers are covered - but casual workers are not. Domestic workers also aren't covered, nor are school teachers.
Employers of ranch and farm workers do not have to register with WCB. Still, an employer of farm workers can apply for coverage for her or himself, and apply, also, for her or his workers' coverage. A worker can call WCB at 1 800 667 7590 or email WCB to check whether or not her or his employer is registered with WCB.
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. While the employer might recommend a doctor, the worker can go to the doctor of her or his choice. The employer organizes and pays for the travel cost to the doctor's office or hospital emergency.
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 WCB. 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 trace later how work may have caused or played a significant part in a more serious injury or illness.
Unions are interested in workers' stories of work accidents, work injuries and work illnesses. Collecting information from many workers, a union can judge whether to recommend to the employer worker training, the use of safety equipment, or equipment repair, for instance, towards improving health and safety at the workplace.
How can a worker get compensation? First, a worker fills in the Worker's Initial Report of Injury (PDF). The worker should answer the questions on the report in great detail. In particular, the events leading to the accident or injury can be reported like a story, with a beginning, middle and end, including background details and the names of any witnesses. The worker keeps a copy of the completed report for her or his own records.
A friend, co worker, or family member can fill in the report with the worker. Information on benefits, rehabilitation, retraining, wage loss, medical aid, and survivor's benefits is available free of charge from the Office of the Worker's Advocate. The Office of the Worker's Advocate is independent from WCB. A unionized worker can go to the union, too, for information and assistance with filling in the report.
As WCB decides whether or not to compensate a worker, and the amount of compensation a worker receives, WCB looks not only at the worker's report of injury, but also at the doctor's medical report on the worker's injury and at the employer's report on the worker's injury. The injured worker can get a copy of the employer's report from WCB if the employer won't give the worker a copy. On the employer's report, the worker can check to see whether or not the information in the report's "Injury information" section and "Wage and employment information" section are correct. The worker can speak to WCB or to the Office of the Worker's Advocate about incorrect information on the employer's report.
What should the worker do while off from work because of a work injury or illness? It is important for the worker:
- To speak with WCB before changing doctors, since changing doctors may not be permitted
- To keep in contact with the doctor or other health care provider, attend all medical appointments and follow all medical instruction (such as exercise programs, nutrition plans, the use of medical aids, etc.)
- To talk with the doctor or other health care provider about when it is safe to return to work
- To take detailed notes on conversations with 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, and health expenses
- To keep all receipts for expenses related to the work injury or illness for a possible refund from WCB
- To take detailed notes on conversations with WCB workers and to keep copies of letters and information that the injured or ill worker sends to WCB
- To take notes on conversations with the employer, keep records of time taken off from work
- To tell WCB about any plans to leave the province, even for a short stay, since WCB benefits might stop while an injured or ill worker is away
What can a worker do if she or he disagrees with WCB's decision? A worker can appeal WCB's decision. This means a worker can ask WCB to change its decision, or parts of its decision. The decision concerns whether or not the worker receives benefits, the type of benefits a worker receives, and the amount and length of time the worker receives benefits.
There are many steps to an appeal. The Office of the Worker's Advocate lists the steps to take when a worker is considering an appeal. A worker appealing a WCB decision can ask WCB for a copy of her or his WCB file (PDF).
Worker's Advocates can work with a worker on appealing a WCB decision. Worker's Advocates are employed by Saskatchewan Labour, and are independent from the Workers' Compensation Board. The services of Worker's Advocates are free of charge. A worker who is unionized can contact her or his union for assistance and advice on appealing a WCB decision.
WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD OF SASKATCHEWAN 200, 1881 Scarth Street
Regina SK S4P 4L1