• Blog Post

Canada and Workplace Bullying

The Canadians are at it again! As part of British Columbia’s Workers’ Compensation Act, WorkSafe BC has approved three new Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policies, which are set to take effect on November 1, 2013.

British Columbia is joining good company: In 2004, Quebec was the first jurisdiction in North America to make workplace bullying and psychological harassment illegal. In 2007, Saskatchewan implemented similar legislation. And in 2010, Ontario implemented Section 32 of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, or Bill 168.

Following suit, British Columbia has established policies that affect the duties of employers, supervisors, and workers. The policies indicate that all three of these groups have a responsibility to prevent workplace bullying and harassment. The policies establish guidelines that will need to be followed.

This post focuses on a few of the guidelines for British Columbia employers that CPI can help your organization with.
  • Take steps to prevent or minimize workplace bullying and harassment.
  • Well, how do you do that? First, we recommend training your supervisors and workers on what bullying and harassment is, as well as what it isn’t. I would go a step further and recommend training that can help you address a broad range of disruptive and disrespectful behaviors. Training can help you prevent a variety of behaviors from leading to the more serious behavior of bullying and harassment.
  • Implement a process for workers to report incidents of workplace bullying and harassment, and implement a method for dealing with the reports.
    I’ve put both of these together because they work together. Your employees need to know the who, what, when, where, and how of reporting incidents, and your supervisors need to know the hows of documenting and following up on complaints. CPI has many resources for incident reporting for a variety of audiences to assist with your training efforts. Among these is the newly revised and soon-to-be-released Prepare Training® How to Document Incidents Topic Module, which contains a sample incident report. The module also teaches how to document incidents, and what should and should not be included in the documentation.
  • Train supervisors and workers on recognizing, responding to, and reporting incidents of bullying and harassment.
    CPI’s Workplace Bullying Topic Module uses a “See it” (Recognize), “Call it” (Recognize and Respond), and “Stop It” (Respond) approach to helping individuals understand what workplace bullying and harassment is. The module also instructs participants on how to respond if they see bullying/harassment or if they are the target of bullying/harassment, as well as how to prevent the behaviours in the future.

There is a clear and definite mandate in the guidelines for employers to train their supervisors and workers. As I discussed these guidelines with a friend of mine who’s a Canadian health and safety specialist, he mentioned that if these guidelines are widely accepted as the best practice for businesses, employers will be held accountable by inspectors to implement the guidelines. My friend is a Prepare Training® Certified Instructor from Ontario and understands firsthand the negative impact that workplace bullying and harassment has had in Canadian workplaces.

So I end with a question for you. What are you doing to be prepared by November 1 when the new guidelines go into effect? Even if you’re not in British Columbia, what steps are you taking to protect your workers from workplace bullying and harassment?

Additional Resources