Two recent amendments to the Workers' Compensation
Act and Regulations force B.C. employers to take bullying and
harassment seriously. In 2012, the definition of a compensable
mental disorder was changed to allow workers to claim workers'
compensation benefits if they become disabled due to serious
workplace bullying or harassment. As of November 1, 2013,
employers must implement bullying and harassment policies and
What kinds of behaviour will qualify as prohibited bullying and
harassment remains to be seen. The definition covers conduct
both of managers and co-workers, but clearly excludes
"reasonable" performance management and
discipline. The Regulations define "bullying and
harassment" as "any inappropriate conduct or comment ...
that the person knew or ought to have known would cause the worker
to be intimated or humiliated." Early decisions from
WorkSafe BC indicate that only sustained severe abuse will
qualify. Several accepted claims involved explicit or
implicit threats of violence.
In order to proactively prevent bullying and harassment,
employers must, by November 1, 2013:
Implement a policy;
Train workers and managers on the policy; and
Create a complaint and complaint resolution procedure.
Most employers already have policies prohibiting harassment,
such as sexual harassment, based on grounds prohibited by the
Human Rights Code. These policies need to be amended to
cover bullying and harassment unrelated to Human Rights
Code grounds. They also need to provide updated training
on the their new policy, ideally as part of broader training on all
prohibited forms of harassment.
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