The WSIB has released the final versions of its new Work Reintegration and revised NEER policies. You can find them on the WSIB’s website. They come into effect on July 15th.
The new Work Reintegration program replaces the much criticized Labour Market Re-Entry (LMR) program. The WSIB’s senior executive have made it clear that the WSIB will be taking a far more aggressive and active approach to workplace accommodation and assessment. No longer will the WSIB take an employer’s assertion at face value, that work is not available within the worker’s restrictions. Workers will be trained to fill open positions within the accident employer’s operations, if possible, instead of automatically training the injured worker to enter the general labour market. The WSIB has also advised that it will more aggressively apply the non-cooperation penalties where it is of the view that accident employers are failing to cooperate in return to work efforts.
Significantly, the revisions to the NEER policy extend the NEER window from three to four years, beginning with the 2008 injury year. This is one of the most significant cost saving initiatives undertaken in an effort to reduce the serious unfunded liability facing the WSIB (i.e. the projected cost of current and future claims exceeds projected assets and revenues). It is expected that this window will continue to increase in the coming years. The WSIB reports that employers will see the change to the NEER window reflected on their December 2011 quarterly NEER statement.
Now, more than ever, it is important to actively manage WSIB claims, and to seek legal advice to avoid making costly mistakes or missing valuable opportunities.