Understanding the New Work Reintegration Policies

Work Reintegration is the process of returning to work following a period of disability. It encompasses the many ways in which this can happen. For example, a graduated return to work, workplace accommodations, and/or retraining to return to work with either the injury employer or a new one.

At a Glance

Work Reintegration Principles, Concepts and Definitions 

19-02-01

This policy sets out general Work Reintegration principles:

  • Appropriate and early work reintegration maintains a worker’s dignity and productivity, and plays an important role in their recovery and rehabilitation
  • Where barriers occur, they are responded to quickly through early support and intervention
  • A worker’s prospects for successful work reintegration both in the short and long term are often best achieved by maximizing opportunities for return to work with the injury employer, including retraining for a suitable occupation (SO) with that employer
  • When necessary, a worker will be offered programs that are of high quality and practical. 

The WSIB plays a direct role in supporting work reintegration. If the workplace parties have not been successful in returning the injured worker to work, we meet with them no later than 12 weeks from the date of injury. We provide specialized work transition services between six and nine months from the date of injury. The terms” suitable” and “available” are defined to assist the workplace parties in arriving at work reintegration solutions.

Responsibilities of the Workplace Parties in Work Reintegration

19-02-02

This policy sets out the workplace parties’ obligations to co-operate in the work reintegration process, and when relevant, an employer’s obligation to re-employ an injured worker.  The WSIB provides education and support to support the workplace parties’ efforts, and ensures compliance of their obligations.

  • Penalties for non-co-operation now include both workers and employers

o   Worker non-co-operation penalty = reduction of wage loss benefits by 50 per cent (if continues beyond 14 calendar days, the worker’s wage loss benefits may be further reduced or suspended)

o   Employer non-co-operation penalty = 50 per cent of the cost of the worker’s wage loss benefits (if continues beyond 14 calendar days, 100 per cent of the cost of the worker’s wage loss benefits, plus 100 per cent of the costs of the worker’s work transition services, with the possibility of the full combined penalty lasting up to 12 months). Small employers (i.e., who employ fewer  than 20 workers) are given a longer period to come into compliance, in recognition that they may not have the capability or resources immediately available to achieve WR outcomes

  • Worker and employer co-operation obligations continue until any remaining loss of earnings benefit to the worker is locked in at 72 months following the date of injury or the date there is no longer an employment relationship for reasons unrelated to the injury/illness, whichever is earlier.

Determining Suitable Occupation 

19-03-03

When workplace parties are unable to arrange a return to suitable and available work, a work transition assessment is provided to determine what help a worker may need to return to work with the injury employer or a new one. Following the assessment, the WSIB collaborates with the worker and employer to determine a suitable occupation for the worker.   

  • Workers are provided with meaningful input and choice in the process 
  • Enhanced Work Transition plans that can maximize earning potential are explored for young workers who are between the ages of 15 and 24 (on the date of injury), are not students, apprentices or learners, and have not had a chance to establish their earnings profile.

Work Transition Plan 

19-03-05

This policy outlines work transition services for workers who need help to return to work in a different job with the injury employer, or to return to work with a new employer.

  • The injury employer may be  involved in the development of the work transition plan from the beginning
  • Workers are provided input into what upgrading/retraining program they take and their choice of educational institution 
  • Work transition plans will not generally exceed three years, with one year for academic upgrading and two years for reskilling/retraining 
  • Some workers retrain best by direct training on the job - these programs will last between four and 26 weeks
  • Workers may receive job search training for two weeks, and job placement services for 10 weeks
  • For qualified workers over 55, there is an option that allows them to plan their own work transition. These workers can either participate in a work transition plan with the WSIB, or choose to self-direct their own plan over a period of 12 months and find employment on their own.

Work Transition Expenses 

19-03-06

The WSIB pays expenses that it considers appropriate for workers to participate in Work Transition assessments or plans.

  • Before the Work Transition plan starts, expenses such as tuition fees, books, supplies, special accommodation needs, equipment and travel are agreed to.

Relocation Services 

19-03-11

  • Relocation is a work reintegration option that may be considered when a suitable occupation (SO) is not available with the injury employer or in the local labour market
  • The WSIB will pay for appropriate expenses directly related to the worker looking for work in the broader labour market
  • Once the worker has secured a job in the broader labour market, the WSIB will pay for appropriate expenses associated with that relocation
  • The decision on whether to relocate is the injured worker’s.

NEER Policy 

13-02-02

  • The WSIB has extended the NEER review window to four years, starting with the 2008 accident year. CAD-7, MAP and small business are not impacted by the changes to the NEER policy.