A Saanich business owner’s determination to bring about change could result in a revision to how WorkSafeBC classifies certain businesses.
In November 2012, Cathy Haynes bought the Downsizing Diva, a business which helps seniors get organized for a move from a large to a smaller home or a retirement home.
“It’s a particular kind of move, they have to make a lot of emotional decisions,” Haynes said.
When Haynes went to register her new endeavour with WorkSafeBC, she was told her the business is categorized as a moving company and would therefore have an insurance premium rate of $5.58 per $100 of assessable payroll.
WorkSafeBC has about 550 categories a business can fit into, but none fit Haynes company, other than that for movers.
For a moving company this high premium is based on the likelihood for injury with heavy lifting and potentially dangerous work. But Haynes company does none of this and subcontracts out the heavy lifting to companies which have their own WorkSafeBC coverage.
“We don’t actually lift the pianos and the furniture,” Haynes said. “We manage the move, so we co-ordinate. We’re more one part social worker, one part logistics co-ordinator.”
Haynes wrote to provincial ministers and to WorkSafeBC to complain about the classification system. Minister of jobs, tourism and skills training Shirley Bond wrote back to Haynes but said the government has no sway in such matters.
WorkSafeBC has since informed Haynes that its classification system is currently under review and that a new category is being created for senior move managers, personal organizers and personal assistants.
WorkSafeBC says this is the way in which its classification system develops over time.
“That was actually pretty quick action and a good thing, it’s the right thing to do,” said Deepak Kothary, director of assessments for WorkSafeBC. “Prior to this … I had never heard of this industry myself. So you learn these things.”
The trend at WorkSafeBC is typically to reduce the number of classifications to reflect contemporary industry, getting rid of occupations which no longer exist. Kothary said it’s fairly unique to create a new classification, but as emerging industries come up there is a process to add categories.
Kothary said there is also an avenue for Haynes to appeal her 2013 classification and perhaps get some money back if the firm can find a more appropriate category.
With the new classification, Haynes rate will be lowered to a base rate of $0.89, a substantial reduction.
“It was awesome,” Haynes said. “It was very encouraging, because there’s not a lot of margin in these kinds of personal services business, so anything that takes away from that is wonderful.
“To get two ministers responding to me is a big thing. And it does take something to shake up the bureaucracy of their little categorizations that they have.”