Document name
Wage Base – Recurrence
Document number
POL 18/2017

Effective date: February 1, 2018

Application: All claims.

Policy subject: Benefits for Workers - Initial benefits

Purpose:

Establish guidelines around recurrent wage bases.

DEFINITION

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Recurrence occurs when a worker who stopped work previously and received compensation for earnings loss resulting from a work injury, returns to full employment and becomes disabled again because of the original injury. This does not include new injuries that are the same type of injury or involve the same area of injury.

BACKGROUND

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  1. The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013 (the “Act”) directs that if an injury to a worker results in a loss of earnings beyond the day of the injury, the board will determine the loss of earnings resulting from the injury and will ensure compensation to the worker (Section 68(1)):
    1. In the case of a worker who sustained an injury before September 1, 1985, in an amount equal to 75 per cent of that loss of earnings;
    2. In the case of a worker who sustained an injury on or after September 1, 1985, in an amount equal to 90 per cent of that loss of earnings.
  2. A worker who suffers a recurrence will have a recurrent wage base calculated as follows (Section 72):
    1. The amount that is the greater of:
      1. The worker’s weekly earnings at the time of the commencement of earnings loss resulting from an injury when the injury was initially sustained. Subject to CPI percentage increases as per section 69(2).
      2. The worker’s weekly earnings at the time of loss of earnings resulting from a recurrence of an injury, and
    2. Any compensation the worker is already receiving with respect to the injury.
  3. Percentage increases in the CPI will be based on the percentage increase for the 12-months ending on November 30 of each year. The percentage increase will be applied to a worker’s average weekly earnings on the anniversary date of the commencement of their loss of earnings in the year following the year the calculation was made (Section 69(2)).

POLICY

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  1. An initial wage base is established on a claim if an injury arises out of and in the course of employment and a worker has earnings loss past the day of injury (POL 06/2016, Establishing Initial Wage Base).
  2. A worker may be eligible for additional medical aid and earnings loss benefits if they experience a recurrence of the original compensable work injury.

Guidelines

  1. If a worker experiences a recurrence of a previously compensable work injury a recurrent wage base will be established on a claim if all of the following criteria is met:
    1. The worker was fit to return to employment that eliminated all earnings loss following the original compensable injury or recurrence of a work injury.
    2. The worker returned to employment after the original injury for a sufficient time to demonstrate they were able to manage the full requirements of their employment. Sufficient time will be considered on a case by case basis considering the individual circumstances of each claim.
    3. The worker is injured again because of a recurrence of the original compensable injury and has earnings loss.
    4. The worker’s current average weekly earnings are higher when compared to their initial wage base adjusted by annual increases to the Consumer Price Index to date.
  2. A recurrent wage base will not be established if a worker’s current loss of earnings is because of an injury not related to their original compensable injury. In these cases, the WCB will consider if the worker has experienced a new work injury (POL 03/2017, Arising Out of and In the Course of Employment will apply).
  3. The WCB considers each recurrence of an original compensable injury separately. Earnings loss benefits will be based on the higher of the worker’s earnings at the time of each recurrence and the initial wage base indexed to date.
  4. A recurrent wage base is annually indexed on the anniversary of the original commencement of earnings loss date. Ongoing earnings loss benefits are based on the higher of the indexed initial wage base or indexed recurrent wage base (POL 07/2013, Consumer Price Index – Annual Indexing).
  5. Claim costs because of a recurrence are charged to the original injury employer’s experience, regardless if a recurrent wage base or the initial wage base is used to issue earnings loss benefits.

Terminating Benefits

  1. Workers are entitled to earnings loss benefits until (POL 09/2012, Termination – Age 63 and Over, Age 65, and Retirement):
    1. Their loss of earnings cease, or
    2. Until they reach age 65.
  2. If a worker is 63 or older at the time of a recurrence and has a loss of earnings, they are entitled to earnings loss benefits for a period of no more than two years. On a case by case basis, the WCB may extend benefits for another period of no more than two years, if a worker returns to employment following a recurrence and has a subsequent recurrence(s).
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