Who can believe that December is already here? 2012 seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye. As we close the door on this year, let's take a moment to reflect on some of the noteworthy changes and news items that impacted us within the HR world.
WSIB News in 2012
Changes at the top
Amid some controversy, the McGuinty Liberals appointed long-time Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North) to replace Steve Mahoney as Chair of the WSIB in April.
Witmer has stated that she has plans to "modernize" the organization. To learn more about her vision, click here.
Opening the floodgates
A noteworthy WSIAT decision regarding stress claims early in 2012 expanded the scope of entitlement for traumatic mental stress and reversed the historical requirement of a "physical threat."
Many wonder if this will lead to a dramatic increase in mental health claims. Check out Clear Path's blog post on this topic.
Employer cost increases
In order to reduce its approximately $14.2B unfunded liability, the WSIB continues to implement changes that often lead to increased costs for employers.
The previously announced expansion of the NEER window to 4 years came into effect on this year's NEER statements and employer premium rates were increased an average of 2.0% for 2012 and another 2.5% for 2013.
NEER Expected Cost Factors were reduced on December 2011 quarterly statements. This translated into lower rebates for the 2011 accident year and a number of firms facing surcharges due to the change in the NEER claim cost calculation. Check out our blog for more details.
In an unusual step, the WSIB adjusted historical reserve factors just prior to the release of September 2012 NEER statements. Many companies complained that this impacted their forecasted costs for the year.
Accessibility in 2012
AODA Customer Service Standard
The Ontario government is implementing legislation known as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) with the intention of making the province fully accessible by 2025.
On January 1st, the AODA Customer Service Standard, the first of the five original pieces of the staggered legislation, came into effect for most Ontario private sector businesses (it came into effect in the public sector two years earlier). Clear Path can help your company get compliant if you haven't yet done so. Click here to learn about our AODA DIY package.
By December 31st, if you have 20 or more employees, you must file your Customer Service Accessibility Compliance Report to inform the Ministry that you have met the requirements of the Customer Service Standard.
Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation (IAR)
Originally the Ontario government had five separate "standards" to be implemented separately as part of the AODA. Changing course in 2011, they decided to combine three of them (Employment Standard, Information & Communications Standard, and Transportation Standard) into the AODA Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation.
Time frame implementation of IAR
One aspect of the Information & Communications Standard, namely that emergency procedures and public safety information be accessible to people with disabilities, came into effect as of Jan. 1, 2012.
First steps towards AODA Built Environment Standard
The fifth and final part of the original five AODA standards is the Built Environment Standard. For many, this standard is the most daunting and controversial since it may lead to battles over accessibility versus historically significant buildings.
As a first step towards this new standard, the Ontario government released a draft version of the AODA Built Environment Standard for "Public Spaces" for review and consultation between August-September 2012.
Public spaces are defined in the draft as:
It is expected that much of draft will survive to the final version. The government has proposed compliance dates of 2017 for large businesses and 2018 for small businesses (less than 50 employees).
It is noteworthy to mention that many of the requirements include a general exception where it is not practicable to comply because of existing physical or site constraints that prohibit modification. There are also exceptions for spaces designated as having cultural or national historical significance. Click here to learn more.
AODA in the news
Two recent stories demonstrate why having a clear understanding of the AODA legislation is so important:
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