New rules for injured workers coming into effect January 1

Attend an HEU webinar in January to learn about these new rules
New rules for injured workers

Injured workers and their employers will be required by the Workers Compensation Act to cooperate and communicate with each other and with WorksafeBC (WSBC) in order to get injured workers back to work that is safe for them to perform. 

Take a Webinar

For more information about how these rule changes affect you, please attend one of the upcoming January webinars by registering here.


  • Employers will now have a “duty to maintain employment” for injured workers. This is similar but not the same as the “duty to accommodate” under the Human Rights Code.  
  • Employers now have to offer both temporary and permanent “suitable work”. “Suitable work” is work with changes made to the duties, hours, or equipment so that you can perform it safely. Employers also cannot terminate your employment because you are injured and cannot do your regular work. 
  • Workers now have an obligation to cooperate with their employer and WSBC by staying in communication, not refusing suitable and safe modified work, and by helping to identify other work they can do if they cannot do their regular duties. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I don’t cooperate or talk to my employer or WSBC?

There are financial consequences for not living up to the new obligations. For workers, WSBC can reduce, suspend, or terminate your wage-loss benefits if you refuse to do safe suitable work, or do not maintain communication or cooperation. 

  1. WSBC has to give you a letter in writing first, explaining what you need to do.
  2. Ten days after the date on the letter, WSBC can reduce your wage-loss benefits by 50 per cent, if you have not cooperated.
  3. Fourteen days after that, WSBC can suspend all your wage-loss benefits until you cooperate. 
  4. Once you cooperate, wage loss benefits will resume from the date you cooperated forward (no back pay).

What happens if my employer refuses to offer me suitable work or fires me after I return to work?

Employers who do not cooperate or fulfill their obligations can be fined. Employers also get warnings and time to comply. 

What if my employer or supervisor was bullying or harassing me?

This new obligation to cooperate and communicate with the employer does not apply if it is harmful or would delay your recovery. 

What if my employer and I don’t agree on what communication is necessary or what duties are suitable? 

These changes are intended to encourage and support workers and employers working together to find solutions that allow workers to stay at their jobs. However, workers and employers will not always agree, and some employers may be unreasonable. Under these new rules, when a worker or their employer do not agree, either side can ask WorksafeBC to decide. WSBC has 60 days to decide whether duties are suitable, or whether a worker or employer is not cooperating.

What if my employer fired me after I returned to work and could not do my full duties? 

Employers have a “duty to maintain employment” and must accommodate workers up to the point of undue hardship. Undue hardship means too expensive or difficult. Accommodations don’t have to be what a worker prefers, but they do have to be what is safe and suitable for a worker. If your employer fires you after you return to work after suffering an injury, there is a presumption that the employer breached its duty to maintain your employment. In these circumstances a worker has 90 days to ask WSBC to decide that the employer breached its duty. If the employer can prove the termination was not due to a worker’s injury or disability, then WSBC may find the employer did not breach its duty.

Key Advice for Injured Workers

  • Keep written records of when you speak to your employer, including the date and time, who you spoke to, and what you talked about.  This will help defend against any accusations you are not cooperating or communicating. 
  • Keep a copy of any forms or offers of modified duties from your employer. 
  • When you see your doctor to ask if different work is suitable and safe, make sure your doctor understands the duties being offered before giving their opinion and that they clearly describe any limitations or restrictions you have.
  • When you are working modified duties, keep a record of any difficulties or setbacks to support any changes you may need or any disagreement about whether the duties are suitable and safe.