WFJ: Employee Disability – January 2015


 Employee Disability: Who Needs to Know?

Disability insuranceMy colleague, Dan Fortuna has been handing out materials on the subject of employee disability and once I got a hold of it I thought it should certainly be published on the blog. I’m sure that there is some information here that most employers as well as many employees just don’t know. Please have a read and ultimately, ensure your employees are well taken care of in the unfortunate situation he/she are not able to work due to a disability.


  • There are plans in place to cover Employees for disabilities (illness or injury) that occur while at work (occupational) or while not at work (non-occupational).
  • It is important to know when the various insuring institutions need to be notified of an illness or injury to ensure a claim is not jeopardized due to late filing by the employee and employer.
  • In BC, disabilities can be covered by Workplace BC, the Employment Insurance Disability benefit and by an employer’s employee benefit program through short term and long term disability benefits.
  • If a workplace incident occurs, WorkSafeBC will provide return-to-work rehabilitation, compensation, health care benefits, and a range of other services.
  • Employee injury or illness that happen outside the workplace are covered through the Employment Insurance sickness benefit or through the employer’s short term and/or long term disability benefits.
  • The Employment Insurance sickness benefit covers working members who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine.
  • For most people, the EI benefit is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount.
  • Employer disability programs (short term and long term) cover illnesses or injuries that occur outside the workplace.
  • Benefit plan programs provide compensation, return to work rehabilitation, retraining, education and other services to return an employee to their current job or prepare them for other employment should they need to find alternate employment.
  • The notification period of a claim for each institution is:
  • Worksafe BC: 3 business days from the date of incident.
  • Employment Insurance: four weeks from the day last worked.
  • Employer Benefit Plan: 180 days from the end of the benefit qualifying period.
  • There are situations where it is important for ill or injured employees to inform more than one of the insuring bodies.
  • There are times when an employee is initially approved for a workplace injury or illness and starts to receive Worksafe BC compensation benefits. If the employee and employer deem it to be a work related incident they often don’t bother to notify EI or the employer’s benefit plan insurer.
  • However, there are instances where Worksafe BC will initially approve a work related claim, but at some future date will terminate the claim on the basis that the illness or injury is no longer work related.
  • If the Worksafe BC claim is terminated after the notification periods for EI and the Employer Benefit Plan it could mean the employee will be declined benefits they might otherwise have been entitled to had they also filed with the other insuring bodies.
  • As well, an employee may think their illness is not work related and wait until the end of their qualifying period to apply for benefits through the employer’s benefit program.
  • If the insurer deems the illness to be work related they may decline the claim. If Workplace BC was not notified initially within the 3 day notification period it could jeopardize what might be a valid work related illness.
  • It’s very important to take the time to at least inform the insuring bodies of a possible claim and seek their instructions on how best to proceed to ensure all avenues for an employee to receive the coverage they are entitled to are preserved.