Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: How is WCB funded?
A: The WCB is funded through premiums paid by Employers in industries covered under The Workers’ Compensation Act and by investment income. View the list of covered industries by WCB.
Q: Why are employers getting a distribution?
A: Employers are receiving a distribution because we are over funded according to the WCB’s funding policy. If the WCB’s funded position exceeds 122 percent, a surplus may be distributed back to employers. The increase in our 2015 funded position is substantially due to investment income.
Q: Does this mean that the WCB is collecting more premiums from employers than it should?
A: No. Substantially all of the Injury Fund balance was created as a result of higher than expected investment returns. There are very few years where there have been positive contributions from our insurance operations.
Q : How will the excess surplus be distributed?
A: The WCB will distribute 100 percent of the surplus to employers in two instalments; one in July, and, the second by the end of the year. The surplus will be distributed by cheque or credit to their WCB employer account in 2016.
Q: How do I know if I will be getting a cheque or a credit?
A: At the time of the distribution, eligible employers whose accounts are current will receive a cheque. Eligible employers with past due accounts with amounts owing from 2015 are only eligible to receive credits.
Q: Will I be notified if I am eligible?
A: Only those who are receiving a portion of the distribution will be notified.
Q: What method will be used to determine how much each employer gets?
A: The distribution will be transparent and is based on a fair and equitable process that is determined by comparing each firm’s premiums paid to the claims costs associated with their firm. Firms will be eligible for the distribution if their net premiums exceeded their claims costs for the years 2012 to 2014. The amount of the distribution is determined based on 2014 base premiums. This is the most current year of assessed actual payroll.
Q: Is the WCB distributing 100 percent of the excess funded position?
A: Yes, the WCB Board is distributing 100 percent of the surplus in two instalments in 2016. When over funded, the WCB funding policy allows up to five years to distribute the excess surplus to employers. At the end of 2015, according to the funding policy, the amount of the Injury Fund in excess of the funding policy is $281.5 million. Of that amount, the Board approved a distribution of $140.75 million or 50 percent of the excess surplus in July. The remaining 50 percent will be distributed by the end of the year.
Q: How did the Board determine it to be 100 percent?
A: Following stakeholder input from both employers’ and workers’ representation, the WCB Board authorized that the surplus funds in the amount of $281.5 million be distributed to Saskatchewan employers in 2016 in two instalments. The first installment of 50 percent ($140.75 million) will be distributed in July and the remaining 50 percent by the end of the year. The Board carefully considered the following factors in order to make its decision: market uncertainties and investment return volatility; funding policy review; cash flow requirements; economic uncertainty; changes in accounting and actuarial standards; and the uncertainty around Committee of Review recommendations.
Q: Could political events in the UK, particularly the referendum of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union, and global market uncertainties, change the Board’s decision to distribute 100 percent of the surplus in 2016? Will the investment markets impact premium rates in the future?
A: In making its decision, the Board did consider current political and economic unrest including Brexit. While the decision to distribute 100 percent of the surplus in 2016 is firm, the Board recognizes that current political decisions and other economic uncertainties may have a future impact on the WCB’s funded position. There could also be an impact on premiums should the Board’s funded position fall below 103 percent.
Q: Why isn’t the distribution in 2016 given in one lump sum? Why two payments instead of one?
A: The surplus is substantially a result of investment income and the WCB requires time to liquefy assets into cash in order to minimize the impact on the price received.
Q: What employers are eligible to receive a portion of the excess investment earnings?
A: Employers who were a net contributor to the compensation system over a three year cumulative period (2012 -2014). Net contributions are defined as base premium plus surcharges less discounts less claim costs. Employers also must have had an active WCB account status as of December 31, 2015.
Q: Why was December 31, 2015 chosen as the account status date?
A: The excess funded positon was realized during the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015. Employers are required to have an active account as of December 31, 2015.
Q: Why was the period 2012 to 2014 used to determine if an Employer will be eligible to receive an excess investment earnings distribution?
A: 2014 is the most current year that WCB has completely assessed actual payrolls. A three year period was chosen to ensure employers were not disqualified based on one or two bad years with respect to claim costs.
Q: Are employers that have a bad safety record eligible for this distribution?
A: All employers who were a net contributor (or who have premiums greater than their claims costs) to the compensation system over the three year period from 2012 to 2014 are eligible.
Q: When will the surplus be distributed?
A: The surplus is targeted to be distributed in two instalments – 50 percent in July and the remaining 50 percent at the end of the year.
Q: How often are excess injury funds distributed?
A: There is no set interval for distribution. The last distribution was in 2015 and prior to that the last similar distribution was over 10 years ago.
Q: Can employers expect a distribution every year?
A: No. The funded position is mostly impacted by realized investment earnings which are hard to predict in volatile investment markets.
Q: How come this money isn’t being used to provide better care/top up benefits for injured workers?
A: The Board considered many factors when making its decision and that included both the employers’ and the workers’ perspective. Also, workers’ benefits are determined by legislation. The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013 increased the maximum wage rate for workers.
Q: Why have not some of the funds been redirected to prevention initiatives?
A: The Board considered many factors when making its decision and that included both the employers’ and the workers’ perspective. Prevention initiatives are managed through the strategic planning and operational planning processes and funded through operational budgets. Safety Associations also can request funding from their member employers which is reflected in the premiums charged to the employers belonging to that safety association.
Q: Because of the pending postal disruption, can employers receive a credit to their employer account to avoid delays in receiving the surplus?
A: Currently the WCB is set up to distribute cheques for the majority of employers, however, due to the pending postal disruption, the WCB is reviewing this process and is looking at alternatives to ensure that employers receive the surplus in 2016.
Q: Because of the pending postal disruption, can employers come to the WCB to pick up their surplus cheques?
A: Due to the volume of cheques that will be distributed to employers, this is not a viable option. However, alternate solutions are being developed to resolve any delays in the distribution due to a postal disruption.
Q: How do I know if you got my EPS?
A: If you submitted your EPS online successfully, you will get a confirmation number. You can also log in to your online services account and see if your EPS has been received. If you have faxed your EPS to our office, please keep the confirmation sheet to show it was submitted successfully.
Q: I don’t have any payroll to report or I have closed my business. Do I have to return my EPS?
A: Yes. If you get an EPS, you must return it or you will be charged penalties and personal coverage will be cancelled. If you don’t have payroll or have closed your business, please give us the details on the EPS and return it to our office.
Q: Can I change my payroll estimate after the date on the letter?
A: You can change your payroll estimate at any time. This can be done online, by phone or you can mail or fax the information to us.
Q: When can I get my rates for next year?
A: Rates are set in the fall for the upcoming year. Rate advice packages are sent to employers to let them know their rates.
Q: I got a statement of account but I do not need coverage. What should I do?
A: Please contact our office. If there are changes to your business, you need to contact us.
Q: I hired a new worker. How do I add them to my account?
A: Individual names of workers are not recorded by the WCB. Your payroll estimated should be updated to reflect the additional wages that will be paid to that worker. You can update your payroll estimate online, or you can phone or mail in your revision to our office.
Q: What is the difference between a clearance and a letter of good standing?
A: A letter of good standing is given before the work begins to check if someone has an account. It is only good for the day of issue. The status of a contractor can change at any time. You must get a clearance before paying any contractors. It releases you from having to pay for any amounts not paid on a contractors account.
Q: I have got a clearance and it is a “hold” but the contractor is asking me to pay. What should I do?
A: Do not pay the contractor. Advise them to contact our office. They will get instructions from our office on what to do. Do not pay until you are told by us it is okay to pay.
Q: I got a clearance and the status is “pending”. What does this mean?
A: This does not necessarily mean that anything is wrong with the account. Certain accounts need to be checked by our staff. You will be contacted with more information once we have finished checking the account.
Q: I got a clearance and the status is “deemed”. Can I pay the contractor?
A: Yes. This means the contractor is not registered. You will be responsible to pay the premiums for them. You cannot pass the charges on to the contractor in any way, unless they are hired equipment (eg. a bobcat).
Q: I have sent a demand amount for a clearance. Can I pay the rest of the money to the contractor now?
A: Yes. When you are asked to send outstanding amounts owed to us for a contractor, you can give the rest of the money to the contractor.
Q: Do I have to register for coverage?
A: You must register for coverage if you are hiring workers or contractors in a mandatory industry, as identified in The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013. Directors that are reporting employment income on a Canada Revenue Agency T4 slip are considered a worker and are required to have WCB coverage. If you don’t have any workers or contractors, you may be eligible for optional personal coverage.
Q: I have my own private insurance. Do I need to register for WCB coverage?
A: The Workers’ Compensation system is a mandatory insurance system. If you meet the requirements to have an account, you must register.
Q: What happens if I don’t register?
A: If you don’t register, you could be charged penalties. You could also be charged with the full cost of a claim and will be required to pay the premiums for the prior year.
Q: When do I need to register?
A: You need to register within 30 days of beginning work or having workers in Saskatchewan.
Q: How much does it cost to register?
A: There is no charge for registering if you are part of a mandatory industry. There is a minimum account fee of $100 per year. Otherwise, your premiums are calculated based on your payroll in the industry you are operating in.
Q: I am working for someone and they said I had to have my own account. Is that true?
A: Not everyone is eligible for their own account. Please contact our office to see if you can get an account. If not, your coverage is given by the company you are working for.
Q: I have hired someone under contract. They said they cannot get an account. What happens now?
A: They are considered your worker and you pay premiums for them. You cannot deduct premiums from them unless they are using their own heavy equipment.
Q: Can I ask my employee to register for an account?
A: No. Employees cannot get their own coverage. You cannot deduct premiums from them unless they are using their own heavy equipment.
Q: I have an account in another province. Will that coverage be enough?
A: Each province has its own legislation so your coverage may not carry over. Please contact us to see if you need to register. If you don’t need to register, you may be considered a worker of the principal you are working for.
Q: I do not hire workers. I only have contractors. Why do I have to have an account?
A: If you hire contractors, you are considered an employer under our Act. You need to get clearances for any contractors you hire. If the contractor is not registered with us, they will be treated as your worker. If all of your contractors are registered and in good standing you are responsible for the minimum account fee.
Q: Who is covered by the WCB?
A: All workers in mandatory industries are covered, no matter how old they are. A director who is reporting employment income on a Canada Revenue Agency T4 slip is considered a worker and is required to have WCB coverage. Contractors working for a principal are covered.
Q: I am a director of a corporation and get a T4 but don’t want coverage. Can I opt out?
A: No. Any firms operating in a mandatory industry that are not registered with the WCB but are reporting employment income on a T4 slip for a director will need to register for coverage.
Q: I am a director and receive a T4 but don’t actually do any work in the business. Do I have to have coverage?
A: No. Inactive directors are not required to have mandatory coverage. An inactive director is someone who does not perform any duties relating to the day-to-day operations of the corporation.
Q: I submitted an online application for a new account. What happens now?
A: Someone from our office will check the application. If we need more information, we will contact you. If we decide that an account is needed, you will be given a statement of account with your firm number in the mail. For mandatory coverage, if you have hired workers, they are covered, even if you do not have a firm number.
Q: I have reopened my business. Do I need to submit another application form?
A: No. You don’t have to submit another form. It is easier to email or phone our office.
Q: I have an account. What responsibilities do I have?
A: Your responsibilities are:
- You must submit your completed Employer Payroll Statement (EPS) by February 28 each year.
- You must pay premiums as requested – generally this is within 30 days of the statement of account being issued and on April 1 and September 1.
- You are expected to keep correct payroll estimates. If you hire more workers/contractors or let workers/contractors go, you should update your payroll estimate. This can be done any time through online services, phone or mail.
- Before paying any contractors, you have to get a clearance.
- Contact our office if there are any changes with your business, such as a change in address, change in ownership, or if you close or sell.
Q: I have closed my business but I want to keep my account open in case I hire another worker. Can I do this?
A: No. If your business is not operating, you don’t need an account. Your account can be reopened if you begin work again.
Q: I am going to another province to work. Am I covered?
A: Each province has its own legislation. You need to contact the WCB office in the province you will be working in to see if you need to register. We will cover only your insurance (wage and medical costs) but can not protect an employer from legal responsibility.
Q: My business has closed. What do I need to do?
A: You should let our office know right away. You can fill out an account closure form or send a letter with the details of the closure. We will then close your account. Any balances on your account are due 30 days from when a Statement of Account is sent. If you are due a refund, we will send a cheque. A review may be needed before we will give a refund.
Q: What is my responsibility when I buy a business?
A: You need to obtain a section 156 clearance certificate to release you from any legal responsibility. If you don’t do this and they owe us money, you will become responsible for the outstanding balance.