Bullying & Harassment in the Workplace

Does your organization still not have a Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policy in place?

I am always surprised when I meet a client and discover that they do not yet have a formal Workplace Bullying & Harassment policy or procedure in place!  Almost three years ago, in November of 2013 WorkSafeBC introduced Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) policies on bullying and harassment. This applies to all employers, workers, and supervisors in British Columbia.

What does this mean to workers & employers?

Well, a worker is generally deemed to have been the subject of bullying or harassment when someone takes an action when they reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated.

Sound vague to you? That is why it is critical to ensure you have workplace training in place.

While more obvious signs might include a boss who has a habit of yelling at you in front of your co-workers or making belittling comments about your work during meetings, some behavior is more insidious. Ever get excluded from a group lunch or team meeting, have responsibilities removed without cause, have your opinions criticized or been assigned unreasonable duties or workload? These might qualify as bullying, too.

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Bullying & Harassment affects the overall “health” of an organization. An “unhealthy” workplace can have many effects. In general these include:

Increased absenteeism
Increased turnover
Increased stress
Increased costs for employee assistance programs (EAPs), recruitment, etc.
Increased risk for accidents / incidents
Decreased productivity and motivation
Decreased morale
Reduced corporate image and customer confidence
Poor customer service

WorkSafeBC sets out nine steps which they consider reasonable for employers to take so that they comply with their legal obligations to prevent and address workplace bullying and harassment. They are:

-develop a policy statement on bullying and harassment,
-take steps to prevent or minimize bullying and harassment,
-develop and implement procedures for workers to report incidents or complaints,
-develop and implement procedures for dealing with incidents or complaints,
-inform workers of the policy statement and steps taken to prevent bullying and harassment page,
-train supervisors and workers,
-review annually,
-do not engage in bullying and harassment of other workers,
-apply and comply with the employer’s policies and procedures on bullying and harassment.

 

Where there is no legislation which specifically addresses bullying, the general duty clause establishes the duty of employers to protect employees from risks at work. These risks can include harm from both physical and mental health aspects.

In addition, federal and provincial human right laws prohibit harassment related to race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, marital status, family status, disability, pardoned conviction, or sexual orientation. In certain situations, these laws may apply to bullying.

Is your organization in compliance? If not, additional resources can be found at www.worksafebc.com/bullying/ (for BC based companies) or,

Contact us at: [email protected]

We can customize a policy and procedures 

specific to your organization.