The Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board is issuing $10 million in rebates to employers this month.
Employers with an account in good standing will receive rebate cheques based on the total premiums paid in 2020.
According to Heather Avery, Workers’ Compensation Board spokesperson, employers with outstanding assessment rate payments will see the rebate funnelled directly into their accounts. After outstanding accounts are squared up, any leftover rebate available will be issued as a cheque to those companies.
“We are pleased to be in a position to provide this rebate as a result of prudent management of the Compensation Fund,” said President Kurt Dieckmann in a press release issued Jan. 21.
“It will provide valuable financial relief to Yukon employers, especially those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The rebate cheques are issued from the board’s compensation fund, which contains enough money to cover total and current costs of funding workers injured at work.
The compensation fund was at a 141 per cent surplus at the end of 2020, allowing some money to be returned to employers.
Avery explained that the compensation fund is invested in the market. Potential surpluses or deficits are controlled by market fluctuations, not the number of workers injured on the job in 2020. It was a happy surprise to end the year with a surplus after markets were dampened by the pandemic earlier this year.
“The markets kind of crashed when the pandemic first hit, and they sat low for a little while, but when the markets came back, the funds came back,” Avery said.
The target range for the fund is around 125 per cent, and the compensation board’s fund hovered in that range while the markets were low. That goal range keeps assessment rates stable and provides a buffer.
“When the funds do really well (in the market) and we’re in a surplus, it means we have more money than we need…. So we just give that money back to those employers,” Avery said.
This is the fifth time the compensation board has issued rebate cheques to employers. The last rebates were issued in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Avery noted that the compensation board saw a 13 per cent drop in workplace injury claims in 2020, compared to 2019.
“This is consistent across the country. All jurisdictions saw drops in claim submission in relation to business shutdown with the first and second wave of COVID-19,” Avery said.
In the Yukon, pandemic lockdowns in the first half of the year led to many businesses halting work or employing less staff. Though there were less claims laid, the board’s costs weren’t substantially affected.
“We’re still paying out money on past claims and the cost of operation,” Avery said.
The rebate cheques are intended to provide some aid to Yukon employers hard-hit by the pandemic.
“I think the board is happy to be in this financial position that can provide some financial relief to Yukon employers…. We are certainly aware that it’s been a difficult year for business,” Avery said.
Contact Gabrielle Plonka at firstname.lastname@example.org