Duty to cooperate
To assist workers and employers in understanding and meeting their duty to cooperate in working toward a successful return-to-work outcome, and guide WCB-Alberta (WCB) decision makers in applying the duty-to-cooperate policy, including determining consequences for not cooperating.
The decision maker negotiates modified work and other return-to-work services. They provide support to the worker in their journey to recovery and return to work.
The decision maker further educates both workers and employers regarding their duty to cooperate and the potential consequences when they are not cooperating. They explore any barriers that may be preventing either stakeholder from cooperating, and work with them to resolve those barriers in a way that ensures the worker’s and employer’s needs are met.
When all attempts have been exhausted and a worker or employer still refuses to cooperate, the decision maker ensures the appropriate consequences are implemented.
The effective date of this procedure is April 1, 2021, and it applies to all claims regardless of the date of accident.
To meet their duty to cooperate, both employers and workers are expected to make reasonable efforts to cooperate with WCB and other parties to achieve a safe return to work as early as possible. Regular communication and joint problem solving are fundamental expectations for a successful return to work. WCB will work with workers and employers to help them understand their cooperation responsibilities. Working together creates shared understanding of the work injury, treatment, recovery and return to work. WCB will work to create plans and find solutions to help the worker and employer meet their duty to cooperate. Refer to Policy 04-11, Part II, Application 1, Question #4 [PDF, 0.24MB] for the specific cooperation responsibilities for the worker and employer.
There may be valid reasons that affect the worker’s ability to participate in return-to-work plans for a period of time (e.g., illness or family emergency). Some employers may not be able to provide modified work or other work opportunities because of the size of their business, the nature of their operations, or other factors. It is not a failure to cooperate when the worker or employer has a good reason and is acting in good faith and WCB does not apply penalties in such circumstances. When there are valid reasons preventing the worker or employer from meeting their cooperation expectations, it is important they contact WCB and explain the situation.
When the worker does not have a valid reason for not cooperating, the worker’s benefits may be either reduced or suspended in keeping with the relevant sections of the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) Sections 38, 39, 54 and 89.3 and Policy 04 -11 Part 1 and Part II. In the same spirit, administrative penalties may be applied to employers who decline to cooperate.
Effective January 1, 2021, WCB may suspend or reduce benefits to the worker if the employer has withdrawn modified duties because of a worker’s egregious conductThe worker’s conduct must be outstandingly or flagrantly bad to a reasonable person to be considered egregious (for example, an intentional act the worker knew to be dangerous or might put others in danger).. See Egregious Conduct for more details.
The following are examples of a worker failing to cooperate or participate in their recovery and return to work plan:
The following are examples of an employer failing to cooperate or participate in the worker’s recovery and return to work plan: