'I was tenacious about going after them'

A Sudbury man is warning others that they may face difficulties securing financial compensation if they're injured on the job after submitting their two-week notice.

On Dec. 2, Sudbury carpenter Frederick Kay was was working his last shift for a local construction company when he slipped on clay and fractured his right ankle.

"My employer took me to the hospital and sat with me while we got X-rays and found out how bad it was," said Kay. "I had a broken ankle, which required surgery. I now have a steel plate, five screws, and what I call a zip tie holding my bones together."

Now relying on crutches, Kay is expecting an eight- to 10-week recovery period. Due to the physical nature of his field, he won't be able to work while his injury heals.

Though the injury occurred on the job, the fact that Kay had submitted his resignation notice two weeks earlier made it harder to secure financial coverage during his recovery.

Immediately following the accident, Kay and his employer filed a claim to WSIB, the provincial insurance company that covers more than two million Ontarians across 300,000 businesses.

While Kay said WSIB agreed to provide health care benefits, it initially said he was not eligible to receive Loss of Earnings benefits for being unable to work during his recovery.

“I spoke with an adjudicator," said Kay, "And he told me that I was no longer financially covered because I had quit my job and, in part, I did not have a letter of employment from anywhere else.”

In its decision letter to Kay, WSIB wrote that it couldn't establish whether he'd lost income because of the injury since he'd already resigned.

"I am unable to allow LOE (Loss of Earnings) for time lost from December 3, 2022 to ongoing, as your (last) scheduled shift with the employer was December 2, 2022 as indicated by your resignation submitted on November 18, 2022. Therefore, I am unable to establish that there has been lost time from work because of your work related injury."

For Kay, who won't be able to work or job hunt during his recovery, it was a frustrating and discouraging response.

"I was going to take a job with one of my friends who owns carpentry companies for the winter, but didn’t have anything in writing," he said. "So they said no, you don’t get any benefits. But even that letter would be irrelevant, because nobody’s gonna hire a carpenter that can’t walk."

WSIB eventually agreed to overturn the decision and provide Kay with LOE benefits for his injury recovery, but only after multiple complaints and phone calls with their representatives.

While unable to comment on Kay's specific situation, WSIB said in a response that situations like his are uncommon.

"While anecdotally we can say it is rare to suffer an injury in the notice period after a resignation, we do not track statistics on this narrow subset of claims," said public affairs manager Christine Arnott. "If a work-related injury were to occur during a notice period, our team would assess the nature and severity of the injury and the persons’ ability to work in determining any loss of earnings."

According to Kay, the relative rarity of situation like this means others who face the same problem may also spend weeks on the phone to secure the coverage they need.

"I was tenacious about going after them on how they made their judgement," he said. "I just wouldn't back down. It's my personal belief that if somebody is injured at work, they shouldn't have to fight to receive benefits.

"A lot of people in the trades, they don't know the rules and they wouldn't go after them. A lot of people would've stopped there."

The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.

mjensen@postmedia.com

Mia Jensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star