New COVID-19 Presumption in the Workers Compensation Act

Sep 10, 2020

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Posted by
Norma Miller
Senior Policy Analyst

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As of August 20, 2020, REALTORS® have yet another reason to maintain high standards of hygiene and safety. Schedule 1 of the BC Workers Compensation Act includes a new presumption for infections caused by communicable viral pathogens, such as COVID-19, that are the subject of a Public Health Act notice or a declared state of emergency.

The new COVID-19 presumption in Schedule 1 of the Act applies to “workers” covered by the Act who meet all of the specified requirements in Schedule 1. Basically, this means that if a worker is diagnosed with a disease listed in Schedule 1, it’s presumed that they got it in the workplace. For real estate, workers include:

  • employees of the brokerage (including any Realtors who don’t meet the conditions used by WorkSafeBC to be considered an “independent operator” Realtor for the purposes of the Act – see WorkSafeBC’s Assessment Practice Directive 1-1-3(A) for more information),
  • “independent operator” Realtors who have incorporated (as the Realtor would be considered an employee of the incorporated entity),
  • “independent operator” Realtors who have purchased Personal Optional Protection (POP) coverage from WorkSafeBC (because the Realtor would be considered to be a “worker” for the purposes of the Act throughout the period that the Realtor’s POP coverage remains in good standing), and
  • any employees the “independent operator” Realtor employs.

It’s also important to know that “employment,” “work” and “workplace” are very broadly interpreted when it comes to workers’ compensation. For example, a REALTOR® who is considered a worker for WorkSafeBC purposes is considered to be at work when in the brokerage office, showing a property and even while driving from the office to a client’s property.

Lots of resources are available to help Realtors operate safely, including:

More details
These are the new “Description of Disease” and corresponding “Description of Process or Industry” that have been added to Schedule 1 of the Act:

The following conditions must be met for the above Schedule 1 presumption to apply:

  • The worker must be diagnosed with an infection caused by communicable viral pathogens (such as COVID-19).
  • The infection must be the subject of a Public Health Act notice or a declared state of emergency.
  • The risk of exposure by the worker to a source of the infection is significantly greater than the public at large and occurs during, and within the geographical area of, the applicable notice or state of emergency.

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