Employer Classification Policy 23-300 | Effective Date: May 9, 2021

In order to establish assessment rates, WorkSafeNB groups employers into industries using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Once grouped into industries, WorkSafeNB combines like industries into industry groups based on similarity of:

  • Business activities;
  • Nature of work; and
  • Risk.

WorkSafeNB classifies each employer based on the employer’s primary business activity, regardless of the occupation of individual employees. Employers are classified by industry, industry group, and rate group to establish assessment rates. These groupings provide for fairness of cost distribution and stability of rates.

In situations where the NAICS code description of activities does not specifically encompass all the business activities for a particular industry, WorkSafeNB will apply the guidelines provided in the interpretation section below. 

WorkSafeNB’s employer classification system ensures that:

  • The composition of the industry groups and rate groups are current and continue to be appropriate;
  • New employers can be integrated within the system and assigned to the appropriate industry, industry group, and rate group; and
  • Employers who compete against each other are classified in the same industry, and ultimately are subject to the same basic assessment rate.  


  1. WorkSafeNB establishes an employer account upon receipt of a completed Application for Coverage form in accordance with Policy 23-100 Employer Registration. Employers are required to provide a detailed description of their operations. WorkSafeNB uses this information to determine the nature of the employer’s business activities and the employer’s industry classification. WorkSafeNB may review the occupations of employees as an indication of the type of business activity the employer is undertaking.

  2. Employers are responsible for notifying WorkSafeNB of any change in their business activities or the addition of any new business activities. If an employer fails to notify WorkSafeNB of such a change, WorkSafeNB may reassess the employer retroactively to the date of the change.

Capital Construction

  1. If an employer undertakes capital construction to modify or replace facilities necessary for the operation of the business, this activity will be classified separately from the normal business activity.

Employer Affiliates

  1. Employers are considered to be affiliated, even though they are separately registered when:
    • There is a degree of common ownership; and
    • They are operating businesses that are contributing to the production of common goods/services.
  1. Separately registered employers are considered to have a degree of common ownership when:
    • They are owned by members of the same family; or
    • An owner who maintains a controlling interest (more than 50%) in a company also maintains controlling interest in another company.
  1. Whether separately registered employers are owned by members of the same family is a question of fact to be determined by WorkSafeNB. To makes this determination, WorkSafeNB considers the nature of the relationship and, in the case of “in-law” relations, the relationship’s length, as well as the dates the respective businesses were registered. Relationships that WorkSafeNB will normally consider to be familial include, but are not limited to:
    • Parents/children;
    • Parents in-law/children in-law;
    • Grandparents/grandchildren;
    • Stepparents/stepchildren;
    • Siblings, stepsiblings, siblings in-law, or half-siblings;
    • Spouses;
    • Cousins;
    • Aunts, uncles; and
    • Nieces, nephews.
  1. Employers may also be considered affiliated when there is a degree of common ownership and the businesses share employees, or there is an indication of employees or assets that transfer from one company to the other. Employer affiliates are classified to the same industry and are combined for accident history and rate setting purposes.
  1. If an employer is affiliated with another registered employer who operates multiple business activities, then classification is done using the criteria specified in paragraph 13, under Supportive Business Activity.

Operations in More than One Jurisdiction

  1. If an employer operates business activities partly in New Brunswick, and partly outside this province, then the employer will be classified on the basis of the business activity conducted within New Brunswick. For example, an out-of-province manufacturer with a New Brunswick retail sales outlet will be classified based on the retail activity.

Employers Operating in More than One Industry

  1. WorkSafeNB will only consider providing more than one classification to an employer if two or more of their business activities are distinct and independent. The following conditions must be met:

    • A portion of the employees are not working in more than one business at the same time, and the earnings paid are separate and distinct for each business;
    • The business activity is not incidental to nor supportive of the employer’s primary business activity;
    • Each business activity is independently viable with distinct sources of revenue, for instance:
      • More than 50% of the revenue is generated from non-affiliated customers;
      • More than 50% of the goods being sold come from non-affiliated sources.
  1. Where WorkSafeNB provides an additional classification, those employees who intermingle between two or more classifications will be assigned to the classification that accounts for the largest share of their working hours.

  1. Where the above conditions are not fully met, WorkSafeNB will typically assign a single classification based on the employer’s primary business activity. If the employer’s primary business is not readily apparent, a single classification will be assigned based on the predominant operation (in terms of revenue, profit and/or payroll) among the multiple activities.

Supportive Business Activity

  1. A supportive business activity exists mainly to service the primary business operation of a common employer, or exists as an inescapable, incidental, or ancillary part of the employer’s primary business, regardless of whether separated by location or payroll. To determine whether a business activity is supportive of, or incidental to, an employer’s primary business, WorkSafeNB considers a variety of factors, including revenue streams, the end products or services delivered, and whether the operation could stand on its own even if the employer’s primary business operation ceased to exist.
  1. Common examples of supportive business activities include, but are not limited to:
    • Administration related to an employer’s primary operations (includes owner and office personnel);
    • Warehousing or distribution of an employer’s goods;
    • Transportation of an employer’s personnel or goods (includes transportation carried out before the manufacture of a product); and,
    • Marketing, promotion, or communication related to an employer’s goods or services.
  1. Supportive business activities are assigned the same classification as the employer’s primary business activity. When an activity supports two or more primary businesses which have different classifications, WorkSafeNB assigns it to the classification that is predominant (in terms of revenue, profit and/or payroll) among the supported activities.

Out of Province Administration

  1. For more information on the classification of an employer with administrative staff assigned to operations outside New Brunswick, see Policy 23-305 Administration of Out-of-Province Operations.

Management Company

  1. A management company is a distinct and separate business entity having effective financial control of one or more associated companies, and sharing the following characteristics:
    • Sets policy direction for the associated companies;
    • Shares a director(s) in common with the associated companies; and
    • Staff normally only consists of directors and office personnel.
  1. Management companies are assigned to the same classification as their associated companies; they are normally combined with the associated companies for accident cost history and rate setting purposes.

Effective Date of Classification Change

  1. WorkSafeNB may change an employer’s classification when there has been:
    • An error in classification;
    • An omission/misrepresentation of information supplied by the employer;
    • A change in the employer’s operations; or
    • A change to WorkSafeNB’s classification policy.
  1. In the case of a new business operation, the effective date of the classification is the date on which the new business begins operations. The following table indicates the effective date of classification changes, based on the reason for the reclassification. 

Effective Dates for Reclassifications

  Higher Rate Group Lower Rate Group
Classification error January 1st of the following year Retroactive to the date the error was made subject to limitations in this policy.

Omission / misrepresentation by employer

Retroactive to the beginning of period for which the omission or misrepresentation was made January 1st of the current year
Changes in operations January 1st of the following year January 1st of the current year
Change to policy January 1st of the following year January 1st of the current year


  1. If an employer’s business activity is reclassified to a lower rate in order to correct an error made by WorkSafeNB, then the reclassification will be effective retroactively to the date the error was made, if: 
    • The complete information to allow a proper classification was made available to WorkSafeNB, however, an incorrect classification was made; or
    • WorkSafeNB did not detect an incorrect classification during the course of an audit. 

No retroactive corrections will be made for more than three years from the 1st of January of the year that the error was detected, i.e., the correction will be made for the current year, minus three years, for a total of four years.  


Workers’ Compensation Act (RSNB 1973, c W-13)

31(2)495053(3&9)54(1), 57(1) and 59(1) 

General Regulation 84-66 under the WC Act
Section 3

Case Law

Saint John Shipbuilding Ltd. v. The Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission, 2000 NBCA 6

Accident includes a wilful and intentional act, not being the act of a worker, and also includes a chance event occasioned by a physical or natural cause, as well as a disablement caused by an occupational disease and any other disablement arising out of and in the course of employment, but does not include the disablement of mental stress or a disablement caused by mental stress, other than as an acute reaction to a traumatic event. (WC Act)

Assessment premiumis equal to the assessment rate multiplied by $100 of assessable payroll.

Industry refers to the whole or any part of any industry, operation, undertaking or employment within the scope of the WC Act; and in the case of any industry, operation, undertaking or employment not as a whole within the scope of Part I of the WC Act means any department or part of such industry, operation, undertaking or employment as would, if carried on by itself, be within the scope of the WC Act. (WC Act)

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) – a common framework for the production of comparable industry statistics by the statistical agencies of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. As a reference manual, the NAICS provides a classification structure that includes industry definitions and examples to clarify the content of each industry. (Statistics Canada – North American Industry Classification System)


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