WHAT IS ‘CLAIMS SUPPRESSION’ AND WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?
We’ve talked a lot about what WSIB is and why it’s important to follow the rules and regulations but what we haven’t covered is what are the potential consequences you and your business could face if you don’t comply.
WSIB takes work injuries very seriously, so when it comes to WSIB-related incidents, claim suppression is not tolerated.
WHAT IS CLAIM SUPPRESSION?
Claim suppression happens any time an employer discourages or prevents a worker from making a claim, fully pursuing a claim that has been started, or receiving the benefits to which they are entitled. Suppression of claims is prohibited in Ontario.
Claim suppression can take many forms. In addition to outright telling an employee not to inform WSIB of an injury, it may include an employer telling a worker that their injury won’t be covered by the WSIB, or offering to pay a worker a settlement to avoid a WSIB claim. Misleading an adjudicator or case manager by denying an injury happened at work is claim suppression as well. These are only a few examples, but it’s an important reason why your HR team must be prepared to handle any and all situations.
SUPPRESSION SCENARIO EXAMPLES:
To help you identify what would constitute “claim suppression” here are some scenarios that have affected other Canadian businesses, and their employees in the past.
Scenario 1: An employee sustains a workplace injury. The incident is witnessed, and the worker seeks medical treatment for their injury. Before the worker makes a claim, the owner of the company tells the worker that if a WSIB claim is made, the company will lose its ability to bid on certain types of contracts, which will put everyone’s jobs at risk. The employer does not report the injury to the WSIB and has the worker use sick time instead.
Scenario 2: A worker is injured due to unsafe work practices. The employer presents the worker with two options – they can either report the injury to the WSIB and be written up for a safety violation, or they can choose not to file a claim and be given light duties until he recovers. The employer does not report the injury, but the worker could still contact the WSIB. If that happens, the company is penalized and must pay fines, as well as compensate the worker for any additional emotional or physical stress this situation may have caused.
Scenario 3: A young worker sustains a serious laceration at work. While driving the worker to the hospital, the owner of the company tells them to say the accident did not happen at work. The employer does not report the injury to the WSIB. However, should the employee decide to reach out to the WSIB later, that company may have to face the consequences of its decision to suppress a claim.
Claim suppression can also be an employer not completing Form 7 when an employee reports a work-related injury.
AVOIDING CLAIM SUPPRESSION
If employers take the following steps, they can easily prevent charges of claim suppression:
- Ensure their HR team is prepared, trained, and ready for any and all claims that may come their way.
- Report all workplace injuries to the WSIB, even if workers say they don’t want to make a claim.
- Encourage injured workers who have any questions about their claim, eligibility, or the workers’ compensation system to contact the WSIB.
- Raise any concerns about a claim with the adjudicator or case manager, rather than confronting a worker about the claim.
PENALTIES FOR CLAIM SUPRESSION
The WSIB investigates every report of claim suppression it receives. If it finds claim suppression has taken place, it may impose an administrative penalty of up to $6,000. The WSIB can also refer cases to Ontario courts to determine if greater fines are appropriate, which can be upwards of $50,000.
The good news is, there are many resources out there to educate your team and protect your company as well as its employees. We would love to be a part of that process. Sign up for our WSIB 101 course today. Or contact us for more information at workplaceinjurymanagementtraining.com.