Recently, WorkSafe BC announced that, following months of consultation with stakeholders, its Board has approved three policies pertaining to workplace bullying: one specific for employers, one specific for supervisors and one specific for workers. These policies may be found at: http://www.worksafebc.com/regulation_and_policy/policy_decision/board_decisions/2013/mar/assets/20130320-03.pdf.
Key aspects of the WorkSafe BC policies are as follows:
- Employees have a legal obligation not to bully or harass other workers, supervisors, the employer or others working on behalf of the Employer: this allows coworkers to file complaints against each other and accords supervisors the right to file bullying complaints against employees.
- Employees have a legal obligation to report bullying they observe or experience: this creates a legal obligation on the part of the “bystander” who is not the subject of bullying but witnesses it happening to others.
- Supervisors have a legal obligation not to bully or harass workers, other supervisors, the employer or others working on behalf of the Employer: this allows supervisors to file complaints of “lateral bullying/harassment”.
- Employers must develop and then regularly update their policies: these policies must include a clearly defined system for reporting and investigating complaints of bullying and harassment.
- Employer must advise workers and supervisors – through training – of their rights and obligations under these policies.
These policies come into effect on November 1, 2013.
Before then, it is imperative that all employers review and update their anti-harassment policies and practices to ensure they are in compliance with the requirements set out in these policies. In addition, employers need to ensure their employees and supervisors are properly trained on their rights and obligations before the policies come into effect.
We are available to work with you in reviewing and analyzing your current harassment policies and conflict management systems, in order to identify and “fill” any gaps. We also are here to assist you in identifying the type of training that would meet the WorkSafe BC requirements as well as your specific operational needs.