Bill 14 (the Workers' Compensation
Amendment Act, 2011) introduced amendments to the BC Workers'
Compensation Act, to specifically address bullying and
harassment. These amendments are found primarily in section 5.1 of
the Workers' Compensation Act.
As of July 1, 2012, an employee may have a compensable claim for
a mental disorder if that mental disorder is a reaction to a
traumatic event in the workplace, or is caused by a significant
work related stressor. A work related stressor is considered
significant when it exceeds the intensity and/or duration expected
from the normal pressures or tensions of the employee's
workplace: this includes bullying or harassment.
Bill 14 also eliminated the phrase "mental stress" in
favour of "mental disorder", and included specific
wording to deal with bullying and harassment as a cause of such a
WorkSafeBC, which is tasked with the implementation of the
Workers' Compensation Act, has developed draft policies and
accompanying discussion papers addressing the key legislative
changes. These are available on the WorkSafeBC website.
WorkSafeBC is also currently developing a prevention policy and
tool kit aimed at employers and employees to help in understanding,
preventing and addressing bullying and harassment in the workplace.
The terms bullying and harassment are not yet defined, however, and
likely won't be until WorkSafeBC completes development of this
prevention policy, which may not be until after the fall of
Understand their obligations under the Workers Compensation
Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, and
Occupational Health and Safety Policy in relation to workplace
bullying and harassment;
Identify what is workplace bullying and harassment;
Take steps to prevent workplace bullying and harassment;
Address incidents of workplace bullying and harassment when
What does this mean for your workplace? Employers should ensure
they are well versed in the new language and requirements of
section 5.1 of the Workers' Compensation Act, and should inform
and educate their employees on these changes. A comprehensive
workplace policy which addresses bullying and harassment is crucial
to maintaining a respectful and informed workplace, and avoiding
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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You may recall our blog last year, "Take me out to the ball game": Too sick to work, but able to play softball? that dealt with a telecommunications employee alleging he was too sick to work, but was then observed playing in a slow-pitch softball tournament on the same day he called in sick.