Injured worker entitled to benefits during layoff

An employee who was off work because of injury is entitled to loss of earnings benefits for a two-week period his employer was shut down, the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal has ruled.
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

On June 17, 2000, the worker hurt his back driving a forklift. His doctor gave a medical certificate to his employer saying the worker was unable to work between June 22 and June 30, 2000. He would be able to return to work on a graduated basis beginning July 3, 2000, while undergoing a physiotherapy program from June 26, 2000, to Aug. 25, 2000. However, the plant he worked at was shut down and all employees were laid off from July 3 to July 17, 2000. The worker began his graduated return on July 24, 2000. He was supplied with loss of earnings benefits for the period he was off work.

The employer argued he should not have received benefits for the two-week period of the shutdown since he would not have worked during that time had he been healthy. The employer currently has a policy entitling workers who are affected by a “work-related impairment” to receive benefits during a layoff but that policy has only been in effect since 2003.

B.L. Cook, the tribunal vice-chair, noted even though the policy was not in affect at the time of the injury, it could be used as a guideline to help fill the “policy vacuum that previously existed.” He found although the worker was not able to begin his graduated working program as originally scheduled due to the shutdown, he was receiving physiotherapy treatments during that period.