In November, 2013, WorkSafeBC implemented new legislation that requires all employers to update or change their workplace policies on bullying and harassment and to ensure that all employees are trained on what bullying and harassment is and how to ensure it is not happening in the organization.
Three Common Misconceptions about Bullying and Harassment
Now that we are over a year since the legislation has come into effect, we have found that there are three common misconceptions about bullying and harassment in the workplace:
1. As a supervisor, I can no longer tell my employees what to do! Supervisors have not lost their ability to manage their staff on a day-to-day basis. Supervisors do however have a leadership responsibility to speak to staff with respect and to not use bullying tactics to get what they want. This has prompted a number of companies to do communications skills training with the supervisors so that they have the skills they need to manage appropriately.
2. If the bullying isn’t happening to me directly, I don’t have to get involved. Under the new legislation, one of the biggest changes is the emphasis on the witness of bullying to report. So if I am in a workplace and see ongoing bullying of a co-worker by another co-worker or a manager, I have a responsibility to report it. When doing the Bullying and Harassment Training, this is an important point to make clear to your employees.
3. My co-worker made me cry so he is bullying me and I am going to complain to WorkSafeBC. With the WorkSafeBC legislation, there has been some confusion for people about when they get involved. WorkSafeBC gets involved when the person being bullied is requiring time off work because of a diagnosed mental disorder. If this isn’t the case for an employee, then often the alleged bullying needs to be addressed through the organization’s dispute resolution or conflict resolution policy or process, not through a WorkSafe claim. There are a number of components to the new legislation that an employer is required to have in place in order to be deemed compliant with the new legislation. From the discussions I have had with a number of organizations, this list of things to do to be compliant can be a bit daunting and it is also really challenging to find time to do what needs to be done.
Your WorkSafeBC Compliance Checklist
Here is a quick checklist of what you need to have in your organization in order to be compliant:
- Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policy that is specific to your organization
- Procedures on how to make a bullying and harassment complaint and a Workplace Bullying and Harassment Complaint Form
- Procedures on how investigations of complaints will be handled and a Workplace Bullying and Harassment Investigation Form
- Training for Supervisors/Managers on their obligations associated with the new legislation including the company bullying and harassment policies, the process for complaints and investigations, and how to recognize and deal with problematic behaviour.
- Training on what bullying and harassment is and what it is not is also important.
- Training for Employees on their obligations associated with the new legislation including the company bullying and harassment policies and the process for complaints and investigations.
Your Engaged HR Assignment
Take a look at your own organization and ask yourself these three questions: Do my managers have the skills they need to manage respectfully? Am I compliant with WorkSafeBC’s training requirements? Does my organization have a dispute resolution/conflict resolution policy? If you answer no to any of these questions, you have some work to do and we are here to help!