Duty to cooperate for workers and duty to maintain employment for employers
The duty to cooperate creates obligations for workers and employers to cooperate with each other, and with WorkSafeBC, to identify and make suitable work available to workers in a timely and safe manner following an injury.
The duty to maintain employment applies only to some employers. If an employer regularly employs 20 or more workers and has employed the injured worker for at least one year before their injury, the employer has an obligation to maintain that worker’s employment.
When will the changes take effect?
The legal duty to cooperate and duty to maintain employment come into effect on January 1, 2024.
Are the changes retroactive?
The provisions apply to claims with injury dates before January 1, 2024, in certain circumstances.
The duty to cooperate will apply to claims with injury dates up to two years before the January 1 effective date, while the duty to maintain employment provision will apply to claims with injury dates up to six months before the effective date.
What does it mean for workers?
Workers and employers will have mutual obligations under the duty to cooperate. The worker must maintain open lines of communication both with the employer and with WorkSafeBC.
The worker must also work with the employer to identify suitable modified job duties. If the worker can no longer perform their pre-injury job, but is otherwise fit to work in another capacity, they must not unreasonably refuse suitable work when it has been made available by any employer.
Under the amendment, an employer who regularly employs 20 or more people and has employed the injured worker for at least one year before their injury has an obligation to maintain that worker’s employment.
If a worker is fit to return to their pre-injury work, the employer will be required to offer either that pre-injury work or a comparable alternative.
Support and compliance
Many employers recognize the importance of return to work and are already engaged in effective practices. The legislation formalizes these obligations, reinforces the value of return to work, and promotes positive outcomes for workers.
If a worker isn’t taking steps to comply with their obligations or address an issue they are facing, we’ll contact them to learn more, discuss the issues and potential barriers to cooperation, and offer our support.
In rare cases, further escalation may be required, as laid out in the legislation. If a worker remains non-compliant, we may reduce or suspend compensation payments.
Are workers being consulted about these new duties?
We conducted a public consultation to hear input from workers and employers on four new policies to support the new duties. The consultation closed on September 1, 2023.
Our Board of Directors will consider stakeholder feedback before making a decision on the proposed policies.
How can I learn more?
For more information on Bill 41, see: Bill 41: Amendments to the Workers Compensation Act.
If you have a question about the new obligations, you can submit it on our Email us page. Select “Duty to cooperate and Duty to maintain employment” and follow the prompts to submit your question, and we will respond to you as soon as possible.