Worker’s Compensation (WCB) – what you need to know regarding unpaid appointments

The Workers Compensation Act requires successful claimants to be workers; WorkSafe’s policy guide is clear that “workers” are paid and therefore volunteers or any unpaid appointee are not covered.

Often individuals holding appointments are funded by external grants and receive no University funding. If the grant pay is administered by the University as fellowship earnings, despite not being provided by the University, the grant recipient will be deemed a University employee and be able to make a WorkSafe claim through the University due to UBC paying WCB premiums on their behalf.

Where the University is not paymaster and the external grant funding is administered directly to the recipient, there are, for our purposes, no earnings and therefore UBC pays no WCB premiums on this grant funding. In the case of Postdoctoral Fellows we record these funds as “Non-University Funded” (NUF) on HRMS and UBC does not pay WCB premiums. All other unpaid appointees at the University who receive no earnings from us whatsoever are also not covered under WCB and therefore are unable to access WorkSafe coverage.  This means that if an individual is injured in the course of performing their unpaid (i.e. unpaid by the University) duties, they will have to take their claims to MSP, which will only cover medical expenses. MSP does not act as a wage replacement scheme like WorkSafe does.

Consequently, administrators or supervisors should advise any appointees with unpaid appointments, including postdoctoral fellows with NUF earnings to clarify whether they have access to another wage replacement scheme in case of injury. If their grant funding is from an external granting agency in another province or country, the recipient may have the option of making a claim in their home jurisdiction.

In the case of paid UBC employees working out of province they will be eligible to make WorkSafe claims for injuries incurred, but only for the first six months of their extra-provincial employment.

Should you have any further questions regarding WorkSafe coverage for those working within your department, please not hesitate to contact Workplace Health Services at or by phone at 604-822-8759.