Fraud Facts

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The management of Human Resources requires the HR practitioner to balance somewhat conflicting responsibilities. We must provide services that enhance effective, positive, pro-active employee engagement and, at the same time, ensure that all employees are compliant with organizational rules, standards and legislative requirements. Unfortunately the compliance requirements usually tip the scales into a negative perception of the Human Resources role and, sometimes, create an echoing negative response on the part of the HR practitioner.

Why? The Human Resources function often exposes the ugly side of human behaviour. We deal with people who are not at their best when they, as employees, engage in activities such as fraud or theft within the workplace. This behaviour seems particularly problematic when linked to workers’ compensation systems and the numerous parties accessing the benefits that these systems provide. Sometimes it is easy to fall into the trap of suspicion and cynicism if we start to perceive that all employees are not at their best.

Fraudulent behaviour does happen and is perpetrated by some individuals. Occupational Health and Safety lawyer, Norm Keith, explores some of the specifics related to fraudulent workers’ compensation systems behaviours on the part of some employees, some employers and some third party medical practitioners.

Click here to read the article.

Mr. Keith advocates for the development of a whistleblower reward program that would support and compensate individuals who come forward to report on those who are stealing from workers’ compensation systems. This is an interesting concept as it would allow for an increased responsibility for sharing ethical and legally compliant behaviours among all participants in a compensation system.

In the meantime this reporting responsibility continues to fall on the role of the Human Resources practitioner. We are the ones, especially if the health and safety function falls within our scope of duties, who must report and deal with the consequence of unethical and potentially fraudulent workplace behaviour. These are moral, ethical and legal obligations that deserve to be upheld in all workplaces.

At the same time we must remember that this type of behaviour is not the norm for the average employee, employer or medical practitioner. As such, we must continue to find the delicate balance within ourselves and in support of our professional roles.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Identify three ways an employee, an employer and a medical practitioner could engage in fraudulent activities through a workers’ compensation system.
  2. Defrauding a workers’ compensation system is not a ‘victimless crime.’ Who is impacted by workers’ compensation fraud?
  3. As a Human Resources professional, what steps will you take when an employee comes forward with an allegation of workers’ compensation fraud by a co-worker?

Bill 132: Expanding accountability?

Puzzle pieces: safety and committee
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On September 8, 2016, Bill 132 An Act to amend various statutes with respect to sexual violence, sexual harassment, domestic violence and related matters, came into force in Ontario. This act provides an amendment to the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act with respect to an increased scope of requirements for employers and workplaces handling sexual harassment complaints.

 

As is always the case when a legislative change comes into force, the HR professional can and should access numerous online resources that provide guidance for interpretation and implementation of new requirements.

Click here to read the full text of Bill 132.

Click here to read an overview of Bill 132 by Occupational Safety Group Inc.

Click here to read a legal interpretation of Bill 132 prepared by Jessica Young with Stringer LLP.

There is no doubt that this legislative change will be received with mixed reactions. On one hand, most employers will be able to incorporate and shape their existing workplace policies on sexual violence and sexual harassment to ensure compliance with the new requirements.

On the other hand, there will be resistance from employers who do not perceive a justification to increase their employment-related legal obligations, no matter how important this legislative change may be. As such, this amendment will provide many opportunities for further exploration and discussion as it is tested through implementation.

An initial point of interest is the new requirement for employers to consult with the Joint Health and Safety Committee on the development and maintenance of a written harassment policy and supporting procedures. This is a significant change. It appears to be based on the spirit of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which makes health and safety a joint responsibility of both the employer and the worker.

In a truly collaborative environment, individuals should become more engaged and involved in ensuring the personal safety of their workplace colleagues, especially in relation to matters of sexual violence and sexual harassment. No matter how difficult such a joint process may be, it should create an increase in shared awareness, accountability and active involvement in making a positive organizational change.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can the Joint Health and Safety Committee in any organization increase shared accountability for workplace safety with regard to sexual harassment in the workplace?
  2. Why do you think Bill 132 came into force in Ontario?
  3. What do you think are the most important elements of Bill 132?
  4. As an HR practitioner, what can you do to promote a workplace that is free from sexual harassment and workplace violence?

Health and Safety Responsibility

Law and justice of Canada concept with a 3d rendering of a gavel on a wooden desktop and the Canadian flag on background.
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Who is really responsible?

Understanding the complexities of the Canada health and safety (H&S) legal framework is a difficult challenge for any new Human Resources professional.

A brief review on how Health and Safety legislation is structured in Canada may be helpful. All provinces, territories and the Canadian Federal Government have their own Health and Safety laws and structures.

Click here to get a good overview of H&S in Canada.

All Health and Safety legislation is based on common principles which include:

  • Duties and responsibilities of employers, supervisors and workers
  • The three basic health and safety rights; to know, to participate and to refuse unsafe work
  • Enforcement by inspectors which can lead to fines, potential criminal charges and imprisonment.

At its foundation, Health and Safety laws are based on a legal concept called due diligence. The Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) defines due diligence as:

“Due diligence is important as a legal defense for a person charged under occupational health and safety legislation. If charged, a defendant may be found not guilty if he or she can prove that due diligence was exercised. In other words, the defendant must be able to prove that all precautions, reasonable under the circumstances, were taken to protect the health and safety of workers.”

The interesting thing to note is that due diligence can only legally be demonstrated by an employer’s safety actions before a negative safety event, not after! No matter how much an organization improves after an incident, that improvement has no bearing on an organization’s actions (or lack of actions) prior to the negative safety event.

In addition to provincial regulatory legislation, another legal layer has been added through Bill C45 which allows for individuals and employers to be found liable under the criminal code of Canada.

Recently, the tragic death of a young construction worker in Ottawa brings all of these legal concepts into reality.

Click here to read the full story.

It is interesting to note that this particular construction company was investigated by the Ministry of Labour on a very similar issue of falling ice injuring a worker prior to this devastating workplace fatality.

Unfortunately, this is a story that plays out far too often in Canadian workplaces. There are near miss incidents where no one is hurt and the issue is ignored. Provincial inspectors issue orders that do not go far enough. When a worker is killed, more orders are written and maybe, just maybe, the fatality will be investigated under Bill C45.

Clearly, our Health and Safety legal structure is not as effective as it should be. It is definitely time to ensure that responsibility for keeping our fellow human beings are safe, rests with all of us, not just with some of us.

Discussion Question:

  1. Many senior managers and supervisors seem not to understand the complexities of Canada’s H&S legal system. You have been asked by your VP of HR to prepare a ten minute presentation on: your provincial H&S act, due diligence and Bill C45. Include at least one recent current example of where a workplace incident went wrong and its potential impact on the organization and individual management responsibilities.

The Historical WCB Trade off

How are WCB rates set?

First off, let’s learn the language of workplace compensation. Each province has its own workplace compensation board with its own unique name.

Click here to see the name of your provincial workers compensation board.

For ease of reference for this post, let’s use WCB as the common term.

To understand WCB in Canada, one must first understand the concept of the “Historic Tradeoff” under Canadian Workers’ Compensation law. Workers have given up the right to sue their employers in exchange for access to workplace compensation should they (the workers) be injured at work. In exchange, employers have gained the great benefit of not being sued, and they (the employers) must fund the cost of providing the workplace insurance system which compensates injured workers. That, in essence, is the “Historic Tradeoff.”

Employers must fund WCB through payroll assessments called rate groups. Usually this is defined as an amount per $100 of payroll. For example, a grocery stores rate group will pay $2.20 per $100 of payroll.

In Ontario, the workplace compensation board (known as WSIB) is planning to put employers in the driver’s seat with regard to payroll assessment costs. The WSIB is planning to modernize its assessment rates in order to provide more an effective trade-off between the employee and the employer.

Source: Canadian HR Reporter. The above content constitutes a link to the source website. Please click on the play icon to stream the video.

WSIB in Ontario is planning a new three step system to help allow employers to have greater control over their individual premiums by including:

  1. Employer classification
  2. Class level premium rate setting
  3. Employee level premium rate adjustment

Click here to see WSIB information on the new rating system.

Hopefully, this new system will allow employers who have less workplace accidents to lower their workplace insurance premiums over time. Employers who put time and energy into a ensuring that they have a good safety record will be rewarded through lower WCB costs and increased safety systems.

It will be interesting to see how this new trade-off unfolds in Ontario.

Discussion Questions:

  1. You are working for a company in Alberta that wants to expand into two new provinces. Your CEO has asked you to recommend which provinces the organization should consider moving into. The CEO wishes you consider the WCB premium costing as the factor of study.
    1. Pick an industry, identify its current rate group cost in Alberta and then pick two (2) other provinces you would recommend.
    2. In your analysis include current rate group costs and any possible future trends.

Click here to see rating chart.

  1. Pick three provinces and review any workers compensation assessment incentive inventive programs that the province offers, how do they differ? How are they similar?
  2. Would the new compensation system in Ontario entice you to move the organization to that province?

Hi HO Hi HO – it is off to work we go!

Disney is implementing the 5S safety plan.

Mickey, Minnie and even the Disney Princesses are not immune to the presence of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S). The Disney Corporation is known for its exceptional customer services, lean delivery methods and, according to the following EHS Today articles, Disney is adding the 5S system to improve its safety culture.

Click here to read an article about the S5 system

What is 5S system anyway? It is similar to the Japanese “Kainzen” concept of continual quality improvement. The five “S”s are:

  1. Sort
  2. Set it order
  3. Shine
  4. Standardize
  5. Sustain

Source: Get Kaizened Inc. The above content constitutes a link to the source website. Please click on the play icon to stream the video.

Gail House and Jennifer Zipeto, safety service managers with Walt Disney World, have stated the following about the 5S program: “Implementing a 5S program has bred a more efficient, productive workforce and is slowly improving Disney’s safety culture as a whole. Each cast member now knows their responsibilities, is able to find things more easily and is beginning to understand how 5S plays into Disney’s Four Keys.”

Click here to read the article about Disney and S5

Here are Disney’s four Keys to exceptional customer service and the behaviours required to implement them on a day to day basis:

Safety

  • I practice safe behaviors in everything I do.
  • I take action to always put safety first.
  • I speak up to ensure the safety of others.

Courtesy

  • I project a positive image and energy.
  • I am courteous and respectful to Guests of all ages.
  • I go above and beyond to exceed Guest expectations.

Show

  • I stay in character and perform my role in the show.
  • I ensure my area is show-ready at all times.

Efficiency

  • I perform my role efficiently so Guests get the most out of their visit.
  • I use my time and resources wisely.

Click here to read about Disney’s Four Keys

Disney is all about the experience, but they know that the Magical Kingdom experience does not come by just having great characters and good luck; it comes from integrated management systems such as the Four Keys and the 5S program to truly make the magic happen, and make the park a safer place for all.

Discussion Questions

  1. Research the best way to implement the 5S program to include occupational health and safety.
  2. If you were the HR department of a large manufacturing plant, develop a project plan on how to roll out a 5S safety program. Where would you start and why?
  3. You have been just hired into a small startup company with 100 employees and you produce a high end organic line of salad dressing. Your CEO has read about Disney and the 5S program, and she would like to implement it in the plant. The company has no safety program in place. Would you recommend to the CEO implement a 5S program or a traditional safety program? Which would you choose and why?