The New Provisions on Duty to Accommodate in the Workers’ Compensation Act / Bill 41

April 25, 2024 at
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM PST
This is a virtual event

ZOOM Video Conference

In November 2022, Bill 41 introduced two new Duties into the Workers’ Compensation Act  –  a Duty to Co-operate for both workers and employers, and the Duty to Maintain Employment (of injured workers) for employers.  Both Duties came into force on January 1st, 2024.

There is now new policy and a detailed Practice Directive about both new Duties, but there are still a lot of questions, including how these Duties overlap with Collective Agreements and with the human rights/collective agreement duty to accommodate.

This course will cover the content of both new Duties and address some key questions::

  • What do workers need to know about first steps after an injury?
  • How will WCB officers investigate suitable duties and what evidence is needed?
  • How are injured workers going to deal with employers who are demanding they come back to work to inappropriate jobs?
  • How will the dispute be resolved if a worker says they can do certain modified job duties and the employer disagrees?
  • Is the WCB obligated to involve the union in this process? What is the union’s role in both Duties?

We are all just learning how WorkSafeBC officers are going to deal with these situations. It’s crucial that unions be on top of this process in order to prevent their members from being ill-treated by employers and the Board with the threat of      termination of benefits hanging over them.

In this course we will try to cover all aspects of the changes and will welcome discussion about what others are seeing in their workplaces.

Facilitators: Sarah O’Leary, O’Leary Law and Janet Patterson

Sarah O’Leary was called to the bar in 1981 and has primarily been practicing Workers’ Compensation and disability-related law for over 30 years. She has been a workers advisor, a Vice-Chair at the Appeal Division, a staff lawyer at a major health care union and practiced for 10 years at Rush Crane Guenther. She is currently a partner at Harrison O’Leary. She has been teaching workers’ compensation advocacy to labour unions for over three decades.

Janet Patterson is a retired lawyer, adjudicator and labour educator. Janet began a second career in law, after her teaching and union experience as a sessional teacher at York University. She was called to the BC bar in 1988 and became a staff    representative with the BCGEU, before serving as adjudicator with the Public Service Appeal Board, the Appeal Division (WCB), and the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT).  In 2005, she joined the law firm of Rush, Crane  Guenther and represented injured workers and unions in a variety of legal proceedings and forums.

Throughout her career, Janet has been committed to labour education and social justice. She was a founding member of the Migrant Workers Centre and taught in the Labour Studies program at Capilano College. In 2019, Janet was appointed by the BC government to review aspects of the workers’ compensation system and her findings may be found in her report, New Directions: Report of the WCB Review 2019.