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WCB Bonuses: What injured workers have always known, but couldn't prove (until now)

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The following are 2 examples of bonus incentives offered to WCB employees. The first involves employees of Alberta WCB, the second WorksafeBC. Given all compensation boards belong to the same organization – the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) – it’s a pretty safe bet they all offer similar incentives.

 

I don’t know what burns my backside more; the fact these bonuses are paid, or the way they defend them! 

 

________________________

 

 

Alberta WCB workers get bonuses for getting people back to work 

 

         

By Kelly Cryderman, Calgary Herald July 21, 2010

  

CALGARY — Workers Compensation Board staff get annual bonuses for meeting such corporate goals as swiftly getting more injured workers back to work and off benefit payments, the Alberta Liberals revealed Wednesday.

Alberta Liberal employment critic Hugh MacDonald said the bonus system — which paid out about $8 million to all 1,500 Workers Compensation Board employees for their performance in 2009 — could alter the decision-making process as case workers have a financial interest in reducing the length of benefits to some injured workers

"That is wrong. That is so unfair," MacDonald said. "It distorts the objectivity of the WCB."

MacDonald obtained letters sent to WCB staff outlining their bonuses. He said he became suspicious when many of the injured workers who approached him and asked for his help with their cases had their benefits cut off in December, at the end of the year.

He said he is also concerned that workers are being pushed into "modified work" — a program when workers are return to the job site and take on a less-rigorous task while they are still recovering — even though they should be at home.

"They are making an effort to reduce claim costs by shortening the duration of some of their WCB files," MacDonald said.

However, WCB spokeswoman Jennifer Dagsvik said there is nothing wrong with the bonuses, saying all decisions about when a worker is fit to return to work, and go off benefits, are based on medical advice.

"We wouldn't send someone back to work just to make a bonus," Dagsvik said.

"If we weren't doing it well, it would come back on us. And it isn't. We have audits that are done and people are staying successfully at work . . . and when I say successful, I mean a healthy return to work."

Dagsvik said bonuses of up to eight per cent of a WCB employee's annual salary are paid — an average of $5,600 in 2009 — to all 1,500 board employees if overall corporate objectives are met. The program, called goal sharing, has been in place since 1999.

In past years, the WCB bonuses have been paid out when the number of off-work claims that last three months or longer meets a target, when letters to workers are well-written, and when the number of employers in the Partners in Injury Reduction with a provincial safety certificate is increased.

That program was criticized by Alberta's auditor general this year. Auditor general Merwan Saher said numerous employers who consistently fail to follow the province's safety rules are part of the program.

"In short, although these employers do not comply with OHS orders, and their workers are much more likely to get injured on the job, these employers continue to receive Partners in Injury Reduction financial rebates," the auditor general wrote in his April report.

Although the Alberta WCB is a government-created entity, it is not a provincial department or Crown corporation but an employer-funded insurance body. Workers' compensation boards are meant to provide workers or their families with predictable, dependable benefits in the event of injury or death. The trade-off is workers are unable to sue their employers, in most cases.


Read more:

 

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2010/07/21/alberta-wcb-bonuses-liberals.html#socialcomments 

 

 

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WorkSafeBC employees get controversial $1,400 bonus

 

Critic says bonuses come on backs of injured workers forced to return to the job

CBC News Posted June 21, 2012 6:08 PM PT

 

A bonus program for employees of WorkSafeBC is coming under criticism from a lawyer for injured workers and from a business group whose members pay to keep the non-profit agency operating.

 

WorkSafeBC pays workers who have been injured on the job, investigates workplace injuries, monitors workplace compliance and promotes employee safety.

 

Through efficiencies realized by getting injured workers back on the job as quickly as possible, WorkSafeBC realized a savings of $12.8 million in 2011.

 

Of that, $3.2 million is being distributed to the agency’s unionized employees, meaning each will be receiving a bonus cheque for about $1,400.

 

“The goal was to benefit the worker by voluntarily returning them to work,” said Roberta Ellis, WorkSafeBC’s human resources vice president.

 

Ellis said workers are not being forced back to work in order to realize a saving to WorkSafeBC, but are going back to their jobs voluntarily.

 

But Janet Patterson, a lawyer representing some injured workers, disagrees.

 

“Voluntary is not in any way, shape or form what I would describe,” Patterson told CBC News. “Workers go back to work because they are cut off benefits and often irrespective of what their family doctors are saying.”

 

Business group concerned

 

Patterson said the claim that workers were returning voluntarily is WorksafeBC “spin.”

 

“It’s very frustrating as an advocate for workers going back to work hurt, and the gloss is being put on this “voluntary” return to work.”

 

In a statement issued Thursday on its website, the Compensation Employees' Union said the bonus plan was devised "to achieve savings to pay for any gains in the collective agreeement," because employees would otherwise be limited to no wage increase under the provincial government's net-zero mandate.

 

"This payment is the result of a lot of very hard work by our members. They are committed to ensuring injured workers return to work and that that return is based on a workable, voluntary and healthy return to work plan," the union statement said.

 

The B.C. minister of labour appoints the WorksafeBC board of directors, but the agency is otherwise independent and is funded with premiums paid by employers.

 

Shachi Kurl, of the Canadian Federal of Independent Business, questions how the millions of dollars in savings are being handled.

 

“I know a lot of my members are going to be asking, ‘Was there no way for WorkSafe to look at freezing or reducing our premiums if they have all this cash?’

 

WorkSafeBC says it is still setting rates for next year and has not yet decided how it would deal with future surpluses.

 

With files from the CBC's Natalie Clancy

 

Read more:

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/06/21/bc-worksafebc-employee-bonus.html

 

 

All My Websites:

 

“WCB: Your Right To Sue” – Click here

 

Saskatchewan WCB Breach Of Privacy” – Click here 

 

“The Saskatchewan Party: Broken Promises & Cover-ups” – Click here 

 

"Appealing the Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board" – Click here  

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