You’ve likely heard of WCB coverage or WorkSafe BC as it’s now called in British Columbia.
This short article will explain three things about WorkSafe BC:
- When you need to register for WorkSafe BC coverage,
- How to register for WorkSafe BC, and
- What your reporting requirements are once registered.
Because this stuff is about as thrilling as Vogon poetry, I’m going to keep it short and informative. After Wayne and Garth, there will be no smiling, only learning.
What is WorkSafe BC all about?
WorkSafe BC coverage protects both employers and employees.
- For employers, it protects against lawsuits from workers who are injured on the job.
- For employees, it offers assistance to cover work-related injury, illnesses, and diseases.
Do You Need to Register?
Here is a short rundown of the most common situations and whether WorkSafe BC registration is required.
General Rule - Yes
If your business hires workers (full-time, part-time, casual, or contract), yes registration is required.
Owner of Incorporated Business - Yes
If you own an incorporated company that is actively engaged in business, yes registration is required.
Self-employed or Partnership - Optional
If your business operates as a sole proprietorship or partnership, WorkSafe BC coverage is optional (unless you’re caught by the general rule above).
You can choose to opt-in to be covered for lost salary and medical expenses should you be injured on the job as a result of your work.
Note About Hiring Contractors
If your business hires contractors, it is important to know that some contractors may be your workers. This means you would be responsible for their coverage as their employer and are required to pay premiums for their WorkSafe BC coverage.
Go here to find out when covering contractors’ WorkSafe BC premiums is required.
There are some exemptions where businesses are not required to register. These exemptions are very specific, and more details can be found on the WorkSafe BC website linked here.
If you are required to register for WorkSafe BC coverage, you can apply online with the helpful guide on the WorkSafe BC website linked here.
You will need about 20 minutes and specific information about your business. This includes incorporation information and your business number if applicable. The full list of information required to apply can be found here.
Reporting and Paying Premiums
Once your business is registered, you will be required to submit an Employer Payroll and Contract Labour Report to WorkSafe BC. This will be used to calculate WorkSafe BC premiums that are required to be paid.
Annual reporting is the default for WorkSafe BC when your premiums are less than $1,500 per year. You’ll receive your employer payroll report in the mail to be filled out and submitted on a due date that ranges from March 3rd to 11th.
Quarterly reporting requirements exist when premiums are expected to be more than $1,500 per year or if you are in a specific classification with mandatory quarterly reporting. This will be noted on your report.
A full list of dates and deadlines is located here.
How Your Premiums Are Calculated
WorkSafe BC premiums are calculated by multiplying your assessable payroll by a premium rate for your industry which is set by Worksafe BC. Your premium rate is affected by the track record of your business. It fluctuates depending on your business’ history of claims - a good track record can decrease your premium rate.
There are a few quirks to calculating your premiums that can make the process a pain to navigate. A few key topics to keep in mind when calculating your premiums include:
- You may need to include shareholder earnings that were paid in the form of dividends
- There is a maximum amount of payroll for a given employee that needs to be reported per year. This is called “excess payroll” and the total excess payroll is deducted from the total wages to report.
- You may be required to report payments to subcontractors if they are not registered for WorkSafe BC themselves.
This WorkSafe BC guide is a helpful resource if you can stay awake to read it thoroughly, or you can give us a shout and we can help too.
How to Report Your Payroll and Pay Premiums
Once you’ve determined how to calculate your premiums, you can submit your report online at www.worksafebc.com, or by mail or fax. The mailing address and fax number are located on your Employer Payroll and Contract Labour Report provided to you by WorkSafe BC.
You can pay premiums of $10,000 online by credit card through your WorkSafe BC portal or via the Fast File and Pay option. There are also options to pay by mail or at your financial institution - more info on those methods here.
Congratulations for making it to the end of this article. If you made it through this, then I have complete confidence that you have the patience to calculate and report your own premiums.