Legislation which will make retirement benefits available for more injured workers in Newfoundland and Labrador was introduced for second reading in the House of Assembly today.
The proposed amendment to the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act provides for a new retirement benefit that is a one-time, lump sum payment of five per cent of Extended Earnings Loss (EEL) benefits, plus interest. For injured workers who were previously part of an employer-sponsored pension plan, the lump sum payment will be 10 percent of their EEL benefits, plus interest.
The change would come into effect on January 1, 2019, and apply to all injured workers who receive EEL benefits anytime on or after that date. The one-time retirement benefit will be paid when the worker reaches the age of 65, even if they are no longer receiving EEL benefits at the time. If an injured worker is deceased before they turn 65, their dependent may qualify for the benefit. The previous program did not pay the benefit to surviving dependents.
WorkplaceNL’s injury fund is fully-funded at 131.6 per cent, as of December 31, 2017. As such, the retirement benefit payout will not result in an increase in employer-paid assessment rates at this time.
The amendment also means that the calculations for retirement benefits will be easier to understand, less paperwork will be required, and injured workers can expect to receive their benefit within a shorter timeframe.
Workplace injuries have a devastating impact on workers, families and employers. The retirement benefit we announced today is another step in our efforts to help ensure the workplace injury compensation system meets the needs of workers and employers within a financially sustainable framework.Honourable Sherry Gambin-Walsh
Minister Responsible for WorkplaceNL
Krista Dalton, Service NL