Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions
- Board Directives and Guidelines (work transition plan) (younger worker)
- Work transition plan (younger worker)
A 23-year-old general labourer suffered a leg injury in February 2007, for which he was granted an 8% NEL award. The Board initially denied LOE benefits after July 2007, but the Appeals Resolution Officer found that modified work offered by the employer was not suitable, that the worker had not made appropriate efforts to find employment, that the worker was entitled to partial LOE benefits based on ability to work at minimum wage from July 2007 to January 2012, and that the worker was entitled to work transition services as of January 2012. The Board then sponsored the worker in a WT plan for the suitable occupation of material handler or equipment operator. The worker requested an enhanced WT program that would also include completion of a GED, which was a government-based high school equivalency program. The Board found that the worker was not entitled to the enhanced WT program. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying full LOE benefits from July 2007 to January 2012 and denying entitlement to the enhanced WT plan. The Panel agreed with the Board that the worker was not entitled to full LOE benefits from July 2007 to January 2012. The worker did not make reasonable efforts to secure suitable employment or improve his employability during that period. Board Operational Policy Manual, Document No. 19-03-03, on determining suitable occupation, includes special cases, one of which is maximizing young workers' earnings potential through enhanced WT. It notes that, usually, a WT plan is aimed at restoring a worker's earning capacity but that, in some cases, a worker can achieve significantly higher earnings than pre-injury through an enhanced WT plan without significantly increasing the cost or duration of the plan. The policy applies the concept of an enhanced WT plan to young workers who, at the date of the injury: were between the ages of 15 and 24; were not students, learners or apprentices; were unable to return to their pre-injury job due to permanent work-related impairment; and had low pre-injury earnings. In this case, the WT plan with the GED would cost $7,600 more than the plan without the GED. There was no cost to the GED itself. The $7,600 was for 17 weeks of LOE benefits for completion of the GED. Board memos also indicated that full LOE benefits to age 65 would cost about $310,000. Thus, the 17 weeks of additional LOE benefits was not an exorbitant or excessive amount of time or money. The worker met the other age and other requirements of the policy. Not all the jobs identified within the SO require a high school diploma but some do. There was evidence from a journal article that individuals who have completed a GED are more successful in growing their earnings than individuals without a GED. The Panel concluded that the worker was entitled to the enhanced WT plan with the GED component. The appeal was allowed in part.