In 2013, WorkSafeBC updated its Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) policies within the Workers Compensation Act that deal with workplace bullying and harassment. These changes addressed the specific duties of an employer in order to support the health and wellbeing of employees.
Since then, bullying and harassment has become a prominent subject of concern, both in the media and within the private contexts of the workplace. Issues such as the “Me Too Movement” and “Black Lives Matter” have stirred an awakened sense of sensitivity, and more recent events including the $1.1B RCMP bullying, harassment class action suit continue to draw attention toward issues of toxic work environments.
Although most organizations would admit to having compassion and awareness of such issues, many are not up to date on their policies and procedures to align with this. According to the 2013 Workers Compensation Act amendments, employers are expected to have thorough protocols in place to address these issues, and to ensure that their staff are aware of and educated on these policies.
The definition of workplace bullying and harassment, according to the Act, “includes any inappropriate conduct or 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.” Employers, then, are expected to address this “hazard” by taking reasonable steps to minimize the risk.
Of particular note regarding these duties are the following:
- Employers must develop policy statement with respect to workplace bullying and harassment not being tolerated.
- Employers must develop and implement procedures for workers to report incidents and complaints, including contexts where the employer (or person acting on behalf of the employer) is the alleged harasser.
- Employers must develop and implement procedures regarding how they will deal with incidents and complaints.
- Employers must inform workers of the policy statement.
- Employers are expected to train supervisors and workers on appropriate procedures and responses.
- Employers must perform annual reviews of their statement and policies.
Ensuring your practices and policies regarding employee bullying and harassment are up to date is not merely important to safeguard against legal liabilities. Your employees are your most valuable asset, and making them feel safe begins with setting up systems that support their confidence and sense of security. Your credibility as an organization is important to protect, and even more so is the well-being of your workforce. Taking the time to evaluate and update your current policies can sanction the security and productivity of your team.
Are your policies up to date? Call us now to discuss your organization’s current bullying and harassment policies and find out how we can help. Kelowna Human Resources offers workshops on bullying and harassment protocols, best practices, and current compliance standards. Safeguard your employees and your organization against bullying and harassment risk.
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