Claim suppression occurs any time an employer discourages or prevents a worker from making a claim, fully pursuing a claim that has been started, or receiving the benefits to which they are entitled. Suppression of claims is prohibited in Manitoba.
Claim suppression can take many forms. In addition to outright telling an employee not to inform the WCB of an injury, it may include an employer telling a worker that their injury won’t be covered by the WCB, or offering to pay a worker a settlement to avoid a WCB claim. Misleading an adjudicator or case manager by denying an injury happened at work is claim suppression as well. These are only a few examples.
Here are some claim suppression scenarios based on real cases:
- An employee sustains a workplace injury. The incident is witnessed, and the worker seeks medical treatment for his injury. Before the worker makes a claim, the owner of the company tells the worker that if a WCB claim is made, the company will lose its ability to bid on certain types of contracts, which will put everyone's jobs at risk. The employer does not report the injury to the WCB and has the worker take sick time instead.
- A worker is injured due to an unsafe work practice. The employer presents the worker with two options – he can either report the injury to the WCB and be written up for a safety violation, or he can choose not to file a claim and be given light duties until he recovers. The employer does not report the injury, but the worker contacts the WCB.
- A young worker sustains a serious laceration at work. While driving the worker to the hospital, the owner of the company tells him to say the accident did not happen at work and threatens to fire him if he doesn’t comply. The employer does not report the injury to the WCB.
Avoiding Claim Suppression
If employers take the following steps, they can easily prevent charges of claim suppression:
- Report all workplace injuries to the WCB, even if workers say they don’t want to make a claim.
- Encourage injured workers who have any questions about their claim, eligibility or the workers compensation system to contact the WCB.
- Raise any concerns about a claim with the adjudicator or case manager, rather than confronting a worker about the claim.
Penalties for Claim Suppression
The WCB investigates every report of claim suppression it receives. If it finds claim suppression has taken place, it may impose an administrative penalty of up to $6,000. The WCB can also refer cases to Manitoba courts to determine if greater fines are appropriate, which can be up to $50,000.
The WCB publishes the names of employers that receive penalties or fines as part of its efforts to educate all employers about their responsibilities: https://www.wcb.mb.ca/administrative_penalties
Suppressing a claim can also result in financial ineligibility to receive the Prevention Rebate under the SAFE Work Certified program.
For More Information
The WCB's Compliance Services department is available to provide education regarding worker and employer rights and responsibilities. Call 204-888-8081 in Winnipeg, toll free in Canada 1-844-888-8081 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit https://www.wcb.mb.ca/compliance.
Article contributed by: the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba