Employers’ Council Calls for Changes to WorkplaceNL PRIME Program

On September 21st, 2018 the Board of Directors approved the Employers’ Council’s submission to the Prevention and Return-to-Work Insurance Management for Employers’/Employees (PRIME) program review, currently being done by WorkplaceNL. Read the submission here.

While the PRIME program has value, through consultation with members it has become clear that the current PRIME model is not working for all employers and industries, and requires modifications. NL is the only province in Canada that requires an employer “pass” a safety “practice” incentive to receive an experience rating refund, inhibiting employers from benefiting from the financial incentive of experience refunds. Participation through completion of the PRIME questionnaire on the Employer Payroll Statement is low, particularly in small firms. The program is viewed by many employers as punitive, prescriptive, and a “paper exercise”. The Employers’ Council suggests that it is time for a new, more encouraging approach. Our review submission includes 19 recommendations to revamp and improve the PRIME program, as well as responses to issues raised in WorkplaceNL’s consultation document.

 Primary recommendations include:
  1. Remove the link between the practice incentive and experience rating refund
  2. Change the practice incentive from a punitive and prescriptive audit process to industry specific, voluntary refunds and assessments as exists in other provinces
  3. Eliminate the practice incentive for small employers
  4. Address low uptake in the construction industry
  5. Implement practice incentive exemptions of equivalencies for employers with good safety ratings and robust safety systems in compliance with recognized safety standards
  6. Increase financial accountability in the fish harvesting industry
  7. Further investigate effectiveness and issues with OHS committee reporting to determine different models or more flexibility that may increase relevance and compliance
  8. Remove or reevaluate ESRTW requirements in the PRIME practice incentive, in recognition of the number of stakeholders involved and that the biggest barriers to effective ESRTW often lie outside of the employers’ policy
  9. Simplify communication regarding OH&S/ ESRTW obligations and the PRIME program
  10. Further research and analysis should take place before any suggested changes to PRIME are implemented and/or changes should be piloted

WorkplaceNL is in the process of reviewing submissions and will be making their own recommendations for revisions to the program from this review. These changes will be implemented with further consultation and program revisions will likely take place over a lengthy period of time. The Employers’ Council will keep members informed as to the outcome of this review.