Employer account adjusted and penalties reversed

Complainant: Small business owner

Problem: Employer’s personal bank account frozen and funds garnished.

Resolution: Employer account proven not in arrears and WSIB advised to communicate clearly to employers.

The owner of a paint store paid quarterly WSIB premiums for five years. She did this at a chartered bank, where she also submitted the bottom portion of her Premium Remittance Form (PRF). When she sold her business, she paid her final premium remittance at the bank. Knowing there would be an outstanding amount for the last 17 days she remained in business, she added a small amount to cover it.

She advised the WSIB via a note on her premium statement that she had sold her business. When she couldn’t reach the WSIB by phone, she asked by email if she owed anything on her account. In response to the email, the WSIB closed her firm account, but did not reply as to whether there was a balance owing.

The WSIB subsequently sent the employer a letter, but she said she never received it. The WSIB froze her personal accounts and garnished $844 for WSIB payments. The employer found out about this when her mortgage payment bounced. She called the WSIB and was told she hadn’t reported her 2013 and 2014 payroll. She took a day off work to take her date-stamped PRF’s to the WSIB. As a result, the charges were reversed.

The employer asked the Commission to help, as she believed the actions taken by the WSIB on her account were unfair. After the Commission stepped in, a WSIB collections manager reviewed the account and reversed the garnishment. The employer was told it would take 30 days for the Sheriff to release the money to her.

The Commission also discovered that some financial institutions had changed their practices and no longer submitted PRFs to the WSIB. The WSIB was aware of that. The Commission suggested that the WSIB revise the premium remittance form to be clear about employer reporting obligations and, that employers must not rely on their banks to submit the bottom portion of the PRFs to the WSIB.