It’s been two years since Covid-19 made its first appearance and two years later we are still dealing with the effects. A simple log in to social media or turn on the T.V. and there is no shortage of evidence. This article will discuss specifically how Workers Compensation Boards (WCB) across Canada have been responding to injuries/illness related to covid-19 vaccine reactions.
This is intended for information purposes and is in no way a reflection of any views or political positions. Whatever your opinion and reasons for your opinion anywhere on the spectrum we appreciate you and believe you have a right to it.
This will discuss how wording in WCB legislation is used when determining if a WCB should accept or deny a claim as a result of you a worker getting the Covid-19 vaccine.
Each situation is bases on a claim by claim basis, but in most cases vaccine reactions are not accepted by WCB.
What is the criteria for an accepted WCB claim related to a Covid vaccine reaction?
First there needs to be a reaction. If there is no reaction then there is no claim.
Second…most WCB’s in Canada have taken a position where the answer to acceptance or denial of a claim related to covid vaccinations comes down to one word.
Meaning, did the worker have a choice in whether or not to get the vaccine AND are there any repercussions because of this choice by the worker.
A company should ensure that when they are speaking with their employees about vaccinations that the choice is left ultimately up to the worker on whether or not they should get the vaccine after being provided informed consent.
However, if a company tells a worker it’s their choice or suggests it’s an employees choice…and then treats the worker in a way that can be perceived as negative. Perhaps the worker loses wages as a result of this…a potential acceptance of a claim could occur.
In some cases, employees may be uncertain about their company’s position. While a company is encouraged to tell employees their position, this doesn’t always take place. A worker should speak with their employer and get a full understanding of the company’s position on getting the Covid vaccine.
What are some examples where a WCB claim could be denied for a COVID-19 reaction?
A company holds a staff meeting and the management team inform their staff that due to the pandemic it is recommended they get vaccinated. The company explains that it is not a requirement to be employed and no changes to shifts or work schedule will occur for either vaccinated or unvaccinated employees. An employee gets the vaccine and has a reaction where they miss 2 weeks from work.
It is likely this claim will be denied because the worker had a choice and there were no issues from the company regarding their choice.
The ownership group wanted to encourage their employees to get vaccinated. One of the owners suggests offering a $10 gift card (or other incentive) to all employees that can prove they were vaccinated. This program gets implemented the following Monday. On Tuesday the owner gets a call from an employee that got vaccinated earlier that morning and was feeling sick. The worker misses the next two weeks and decides to put in a WCB claim.
Once again, it is likely this claim will be denied because the worker had a choice and there were no issues from the company regarding their choice. While there was an incentive, there are no changes to their job duties or work schedule. The worker chose to get vaccinated.
An employee comes to their manager at the start of their shift and tells them they would like to get the vaccine, but are only able to get it during work hours. The company recommends that employees get vaccinated, but it is not mandatory. The manager tells the worker to go get vaccinated and they will cover them until they return. That they shouldn’t punch out on the time clock and they’ll be paid for their time.
The worker returns an hour later. After lunch they start to feel ill and it’s clear they are having an adverse reaction to the vaccine. They tell the manager and go see the doctor who tells them to stay off work until symptoms subside. Two weeks later the worker returns and puts in a WCB claim.
It’s unlikely that WCB would accept this claim because although the manager was making it easier for the employee and paying them…the decision on whether or not to get vaccinated was still up to the employee and there were no repercussions for not doing so.
In what scenario would WCB likely accept a WCB claim for a Covid 19 vaccine reaction?
A company is extremely safety conscious and once hearing that Covid 19 has a vaccine they roll out a company policy that states:
“All employees are required to be vaccinated of provide proof of a negative test before each shift prior to starting work. Failure to provide proof of vaccine or negative test will result in the employee being sent home. In some cases, employees may be suspended.”
Reading this policy one of the company’s employees gets the vaccine later that day and goes to see their doctor the next day due to an adverse reaction to the Covid 19 vaccine. They come in to work the next day and put a claim in for WCB.
It is likely that this claim will be accepted because the company policy clearly states that workers are unable to work or may even be suspended if they are not vaccinated. The company has removed the choice from the employee and instituted potential repercussions for non-compliance to the company policy.
A company works with an “at risk” age group. The supervisor comes to an employee and tells them that until they can show proof of vaccination, they are unable to provide direct service to the client. That if the employee wishes to continue providing direct service, they will need to get the covid 19 vaccine.
The worker gets the vaccine after their shift that day and experience a negative reaction. They miss the next day of work.
It’s likely this claim will be accepted because in order for the employee to continue working the vaccine was a mandatory condition of employment.
What have we learned?
At the end of the day if you are a company where vaccinations are made mandatory, and one of your employees has a reaction to the covid 19 vaccine…its possible that the claim will be accepted.
If you are a worker, and you’re considering getting the vaccine but are worried about what happens to you if you have a negative reaction? Speak to your company and make sure you understand their position.
If you’re still not sure then call the workers’ compensation board in your jurisdiction for guidance.
Do you have a scenario that you’re not sure about?
If you are a company and you have questions about advising your staff on the Covid-19 vaccine and injuries / illnesses related to a reaction, contact us here.