What’s New: Nov-Dec 2023

Published Categorized as News

New Compensation Duties – Effective January 1, 2024

The big news is that the two final provisions of Bill 41 will come into effect on January 1, 2024.  These are: 

  • Duty to  Cooperate (s. 154.2) – applies to all injured workers and all employers, for the life of the claim. 
  • Duty to Maintain Employment (s. 154.3) – applies to 
  • Most Workers (with some exceptions) who
    • Have worked for the employer for 12 months or longer at the time of injury; and 
    • Have not been absent from the workplace due to their injury for more than 2 years. 
  • Employers who have more than 20 workers 

Board policies about these new duties have not yet been published, although draft policies were issued for policy consultations. The new legislation and these draft policies are set out in the Board’s Discussion Paper on “Return to Work Obligations: Duty to Cooperate and Duty to Maintain Employment”, (September 1, 2023)

In the meantime, the following materials may assist in introducing the likely impact of these new duties on injured workers. 

Further materials and guidelines will be available once the Board has published its policies and Practice Directives in this area. 

Advocates and Updates

  • A long-time worker advocate, Merrill O’Donnell, will be retiring as of December 14, 2023.  Merrill has represented many injured workers for the B.C. Building Trades as well as advancing the interests of all injured workers with his submissions and policy work. He speaks for many when he writes: 

    “…what I hold to be the greatest benefit …is my key role:  representing and taking care of our injured workers.  In addition to advocating for them on concrete matters, I have taken the time to listen to empathize with the myriad aches and pains, their physical and severe mental impairments, their financial and sometimes intimately personal daily struggles.  This has been my heaviest burden but also the source of my greatest victories and fondest memories.  Without our office many workers would not succeed on appeal or get a “fair shake” at the Board….But it is equally important for unionized workers, especially when they get injured and are at their lowest ebb, to know that they are part of a larger brotherhood and sisterhood who care about them. 

    A sample of Merrill’s “big picture” advocacy includes his last article: Business Community Resistance to Pro-worker WCB Changes.

    Best wishes, Merrill!

  • Rolf Harrison, a long-term WCB advocate and lawyer, will be leaving Harrison O’Leary to take over as the WCB Advocate for the B.C. Building Trades. His partner, Sarah O’Leary, is supportive of his move. Sarah will continue to practice compensation law as a sole practitioner and she may be reached at her new email address: sarah@olearylaw.ca.