Assessments of Employers for Workers' Compensation (7:XIV)

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This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on July 21, 2022.

The theory behind the workers’ compensation system is that the risk of loss through occupational disease or injury resulting from the workplace should be borne by industry as a cost of doing business. The WCA is administered by the WCB, which is an independent administrative agency created by the provincial government. The program is funded by compulsory assessments on employers, which make up the Accident Fund. These assessments must be paid by the employer and cannot be deducted from the employee’s pay (Act, s. 118 [Former Act, s. 14]). The Board gets preferential treatment in its power to collect from an employer. An employee whose employer is subject to the WCA is covered by the WCA regardless of whether or not the employer pays premiums.

Industries are divided into classes and sub-classes. The total assessments for each class are fixed according to the principles of collective liability; the Board is to collect sufficient money to cover the past and estimated future costs of all the claims from workers in each sub-class. Each employer then pays its share, based on the size of its payroll and adjusted for the number of claims against the employer under the Board’s “experience rating” scheme. One negative effect of the experience rating system is that employers obviously have an economic interest in contesting their worker’s claims. This makes the system more adversarial, which might be seen to contradict the principles of Workers’ Compensation.

Some self-employed contractors are considered employers under the Act and therefore are assessed as such. These self-employed workers can purchase “personal optional protection” (POP) to cover their own risk of injury, in addition to the assessments they are required to pay to cover their risk as employers. This arrangement is common in the logging, transportation, and construction industries.

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