BC Confronting Bullies
In the November 4, 2013 edition of Canadian HR Reporter, Cori Maedel, CEO of Jouta, is asked about the new WorkSafe BC policies and the duty now placed on employers, supervisors and workers to confront the issue head-on.
“BC Confronting Bullies”
” As of Nov. 1, employers in British Columbia are required to abide by new occupational health and safety policies targeting workplace bullying and harassment.
The new policies came about after revisions to B.C.’s Workers’ Compensation Act in 2012. These include compensation for diagnosed mental disorders that were a reaction to a traumatic event or caused by significant work-related stressors — such as bullying and harassment — in the course of employment.
And the claims appear to be rising: In the year prior to the legislative amendments, there were 1,047 claims registered for psychological injury, according to Roberta Ellis, senior vice-president of human resources and corporate services at WorkSafeBC.
” Many employers will already have a policy in this regard. If they don’t, that’s where they should get started, said Cori Maedel, CEO of HR consulting firm Jouta in Vancouver.
“It’s also about making sure that the policy’s culturally aligned to your organization, so that it’s not ‘Though shall not,’ Ideally, it’s about what’s the behaviour they expect, not what they don’t expect. And it’s ‘Who do we want to be as an employer?’ That’s a great place to start.”
In the past, people might have hoped bullying and harassment issues would go away, but now HR and managers have a duty to inquire or investigate if they suspect something’s going on, said Maedel.
“It’s that idea that you can’t put a blind eye to it anymore — if you see something’s happening, act. And part of that’s training all your managers as well on what it is they’re expected to do…. so that somebody can’t say, ‘Well, I didn’t know that was expected of me.’”
Employers should also take note that the “bullies” could include anyone engaging with staff, such as customers, suppliers or sub-contractors, she said.
“The definition of ‘person’ is much broader and so organizations need to be very mindful of other people’s practices. So with a general contractor, they need to make sure anybody coming on their site is compliant.”
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