Human Resources Legislative Update
Adverse Reactions to COVID-19 Vaccines: Employers’ WSIB Reporting Obligations and Claim Costs
Date: April 22, 2021
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) recently clarified its position with respect to the coverage of claims for COVID-19 vaccine reactions. Specifically, the WSIB FAQ section was updated with respect to employers’ reporting obligations regarding adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines as well as the impact of costs associated with COVID-19 vaccination claims.
The recent clarifications provide that entitlement may only be granted for adverse reactions to vaccines that are a compulsory part of employment (employers are not required to report if the vaccination is not a compulsory part of employment). From the WSIB’s perspective, a vaccination is a compulsory part of employment if the employer has a rule or policy that requires employees to be vaccinated or if the employer employs an element of coercion for vaccination. Examples of coercion provided include “job changes” or other penalties for unvaccinated employees.
If the vaccination is a compulsory part of the employment, the WSIB will then consider whether the worker experienced an adverse reaction that is more than a normal side effect of vaccination, as defined by public health guidance. The FAQ provides that a reportable adverse reaction includes:
- the types of events that should be reported to a local public health unit,
- a requirement for medical treatment beyond first aid, and
- an absence from work for more than a few days.
Expected side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include fever, body aches, and chills. Such symptoms would not need to be reported even if the worker loses time as a result of the adverse reaction to the vaccine, and the vaccine was compulsory to employment.
Additionally, the WSIB clarified that the costs associated with COVID-19 vaccination claims will not be allocated at an employer or class level. Instead, the costs will be allocated on a Schedule-wide basis. This means that no incident will be shown against the employer’s record and there will be no impact on premium rates.