Bullying Legislation Arrives in BC

Shawnee Love   •  
October 29, 2013

New Bullying Legislation for BC

On November 1, 2013 new policies on workplace bullying and harassment from Worksafe come into effect in BC. This legislation is important to employers because it requires them to prevent and address bullying and harassment that may exist in their workplaces. Even if bullying or harassing behaviours are not present in your organization, implementing training programs and guidelines surrounding a respectful work environment are good business. For those organizations where employee (or supervisor) behaviour may be less than admirable, policies and training are vital.

Consequences of Bullying (aka The Reasons to Take Action)

Not only does bullying/ harassment negatively affect the performance and health of the employee(s) experiencing the aggression, but the rest of your employees may feel bystander guilt and/or increasingly resent your company for not addressing the problem. Collectively, these feelings can manifest themselves in reduced performance, lowered productivity, increased absenteeism and low morale which on their own are significant. In addition, the legislation enables Worksafe representatives to visit companies and issue orders if they observe policy deficiencies, examples of failing to uphold policies, and/or lack of education on offer. They also have the ability to implement fines for employers who fail to comply with these new regulations.

How to Get Ready?

While Worksafe assures us they are not seeking out employers who haven’t yet met the new standards, they commit to including these standards when consulting, inspecting and educating employers as part of their routine operations. If you want to get ahead of the game and reap the benefits of a respectful workplace in the process, here are steps you can follow:

  1. Assess the risk factors for bullying and harassment in your organization.
  2. Develop and roll out the policy which includes a responsive method of reporting and resolving bullying and harassment concerns. (Don’t forget to review it annually.)
  3. Beyond simply having a policy, take steps to reduce the risks by training managers in how to recognize and prevent harassment and bullying.
  4. Train employees in the same. Sample topics may include constructive conflict resolution and respectful two way communication.
  5. Provide support in the form of employee family assistance plans to help people reduce stress and build resilience.
  6. Build rewards and recognition for health, respectful interactions into your people practices.
  7. Make respectful workplace interactions part of your ethos. Live, sleep, eat, breathe it. Practice it yourself and hold your managers accountable for practicing it too!

For more information, visit http://www.worksafe.bc/bullying. And if you want a helping hand, LoveHR really shines when developing and implementing guidelines and rolling out training for healthy workplaces. We can help you too.