The WSIB provides coverage to employees who are unable to work as a result of contracting COVID-19 while at work. If your claim is approved, the WSIB will provide you with Loss of Earnings, calculated as 85% of your net average earnings, for the period you are medically unfit to work.
To date, the WSIB has allowed over 5,000 COVID-related claims. The statistics can be viewed at https://www.wsib.ca/en/covid-19-related-claims-statistics.
How Do I Know If I Was Infected at Work?
The difficulty in making these claims is demonstrating that the employee was infected while at work.
To help answer this question, the WSIB has set out the following criteria for COVID-19-related claims:
- The worker must have a confirmed case of COVID-19; and,
- The nature of the worker’s employment created a risk of contracting the disease to which the public is not normally exposed.
In assessing the criteria under (2), the WSIB will consider the worker’s job duties, the work environment, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The Board will also consider whether a contact source within the workplace has been identified, whether the worker’s place of employment has put them at a greater risk for exposure, and whether there was an opportunity for transmission in the workplace (i.e. even if someone else in the same building contracted COVID-19, the worker would still need to demonstrate that there was plausible transmission).
If the answer to both questions (1) and (2) above is yes, then the WSIB will approve your claim. If you are unable to work as a result of your illness, the WSIB will pay you Loss of Earnings, as described above. As well, the WSIB will cover the cost of approved medications or therapy relating to your illness.
Why Not Use My Sick Days?
Even if you have paid sick days available to you, you should still file a WSIB claim if you believe you contracted COVID while at work. If you wait until your sick pay is exhausted you may have missed deadlines for filing the WSIB claim and it may be more difficult to prove causation.
You can start collecting sick pay and still apply for WSIB. If your claim is approved, you will not receive both payments but the overlap can be sorted out. While it may be tempting to just turn to use your sick days alone if you think you will only be off work for a few days, it is prudent to file a claim with the WSIB any time you believe your illness is work-related. It is impossible to know how long your illness will last, and you may need those sick days for another reason in the future. If you apply and your claim is allowed by the WSIB, you would be eligible for loss of earnings for the entire period you were unfit to work and some employment sick banks may remain intact during that time and therefore be available for future emergencies. Some employment sick pay plans also allow for top up of WSIB benefits.
How Do I File a Claim?
You can report a work-related injury or illness by filling out a "Form 6", found here: https://www.wsib.ca/sites/default/files/2019-02/0006a_fs_09_15.pdf.
I've Been Exposed, But I'm Not Sick
Workers will not receive coverage through the WSIB if they have been exposed to COVID-19 but have not been diagnosed. If you have been exposed but don't have any symptoms, you can report the exposure to the WSIB by filling out an exposure incident form, found here: https://www.wsib.ca/sites/default/files/2019-02/3958a_07_16_fs.pdf. Filling out this form is entirely voluntary; however, it may speed up the processing of your claim if you end up getting sick from that exposure.
If you are a construction worker, you can find your exposure incident form here: https://www.wsib.ca/sites/default/files/2019-02/3885a_07_16_fs.pdf.
If you are unable to work because you have to self-isolate, but you are still healthy, you may qualify for benefits under the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). This benefit gives income support to individuals who are unable to work because they are sick or because they need to self-isolate due to COVID-19. Visit https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-sickness-benefit.html for more information on the CRSB.