Workers’ Compensation – Proposed Changes to Expand Recovery for “Workplace Stress”

June 18, 2013

The Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia has issued a background paper entitled “Compensability of Workplace Stress” which proposes significant changes to the Policies which regulate the entitlement of employees covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act of the Province and (in the Federal sector) the Government Employees’ Compensation Act.

The proposed Policies continue the current exception for routine “work-related events”:

Mental or physical conditions are not compensable when caused by labour relations issues such as the decision to change a worker’s working conditions; a decision to discipline the worker; a decision to terminate the worker’s employment or routine employment-related actions such as inter-personal relationships and conflicts, performance management, and work evaluation.

The Policies, however, expand coverage for what is now called “Psychological Injury” by:

(a) recognizing “Incident(s) of extreme workplace harassment” as a triggering event;

(b) eliminating the requirement that the claimant’s response involve “intense fear, helplessness or horror”; and

(c) recognizing as compensable the expanded number of mental conditions found in the most current edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (presently DMS-V).

Submissions on the draft Policies are being accepted until October 31, 2013 and should be submitted to caroline.read@wcb.gov.ns.ca

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