Since July 1, 2012, bullying and harassment have been expressly
prohibited conduct at the workplace under Section 5.1 of the
Workers' Compensation Act, RSBC 1996, c 492. In this
respect, employers and workers have been provided limited guidance
on how to conduct themselves as it relates to bullying and
harassment by WorkSafeBC – with the exception of
WorkSafeBC's Rehabilitation Services & Claims Manual Policy
item C3-13.00 (Policy C3-13.00) and Practice Directive C-3. This
will soon change.
Effective November 1, 2013, British Columbia employers,
supervisors, and workers will be operating under a new set of three
(3) legally binding WorkSafeBC policies that have been developed to
assist in the prevention and/or minimization of bullying and
harassment in the workplace.
For employers, the most important of these three WorkSafeBC
policies is Employer Duties – Workplace Bullying and
Harassment (D3-115-2). Effective November 1st, all
employers will be expected to comply with this policy. This policy
sets out what WorkSafeBC considers to be "reasonable
steps" of an employer in preventing where possible, or
otherwise minimizing, workplace bullying and harassment. These
include the following:
Developing a policy statement with respect to workplace
bullying and harassment not being acceptable or tolerated.
Taking steps to prevent where possible, or otherwise minimize,
workplace bullying and harassment.
Developing and implementing procedures for workers to report
incidents or complaints of workplace bullying and harassment
including how, when and to whom a worker should report incidents or
complaints. Included must be procedures for a worker to report if
the employer, supervisor or person acting on behalf of the
employer, is the alleged bully and harasser.
Developing and implementing procedures for how the employer
will deal with incidents or complaints of workplace bullying and
(a) how and when investigations will be conducted;
(b) what will be included in the investigation;
(c) roles and responsibilities of employers, supervisors, workers
(d) follow-up to the investigation (description of corrective
actions, timeframe, dealing with adverse symptoms, etc.); and
(e) record keeping requirements.
Informing workers of the policy statement and steps taken to
prevent/minimize harassment and bullying.
Training supervisors and workers on:
(a) recognizing the potential for bullying and harassment;
(b) responding to bullying and harassment; and
(c) procedures for reporting, and how the employer will deal with
incidents or complaints of bullying and harassment in (c) and (d)
Annually reviewing items #1, 2, 3, and 4 above.
Not engaging in bullying and harassment of workers and
Applying and complying with the employer's policies and
procedures on bullying and harassment.
Because the definition of "bullying and harassment"
includes any inappropriate comment by a 'person' towards a
worker that the 'person' knew or reasonably ought to have
known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated,
policies must be designed to consider non-workplace parties such as
a member of the public, a client, or anyone a worker comes into
contact with at the workplace.
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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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
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