A recent decision (205 14) by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Tribunal (WSIAT) is causing headaches for employers trying to provide opportunities for fun or fitness in their workplace.
An employee was granted WSIB benefits following an accident where he slipped and hurt himself while playing volleyball on the employer's premises during his lunch break.
This controversial and precedent-setting decision brings into question the historically agreed upon definition of what activities can be considered outside the regular course of employment.
Specifics of this case: (for the full decision, click here)
If an employer is now responsible for any potential injuries to their employees on recreational and/or fitness equipment in their workplaces, what's next?
Should we be closing down the workplace gyms, folding up the ping pong tables, and tearing down the volleyball nets?
This decision certainly is a controversial one within the HR community. Many fundamentally disagree that the mere presence of this equipment on your premises makes them incidental to employment. Clear Path's Michelle Strassburger says this decision expands the definition of "in the course of employment" too widely. She gives an example of an employee on a smoke break who flicks a cigarette butt against a wall that bounces back and hits them in the face. Is that eligible for WSIB benefits?
Many are also concerned about the message this decision sends to employers who are trying to find creative and fun ways to build team morale and improve health outcomes for their employees.
Rather than removing the equipment, Clear Path HR consultant Kelly Auld says that the best course of action for an employer may be to have each employee sign a waiver that:
Whether or not this would be sufficient considering this WSIAT decision is still to be determined.
Want to learn more about WSIB claims management or the WSIB appeal process? Register for one of Clear Path's upcoming workshops. You can also contact Anna Aceto-Guerin at (519) 624-0800 if you have any questions.
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