British Columbia targets workplace bullying

New amendments allow broader range of workers’ compensation for stress caused by bullying and harassment
|employmentlawtoday.com|Last Updated: 05/29/2012

The British Columbia government has made a pledge to prevent workplace bullying and harassment as part of amendments to the province’s workers’ compensation legislation.

The province is taking immediate action against bullying and harassment in the workplace in Bill 14, proposed legislation that aims to amend B.C.’s Workers’ Compensation Act. As part of the pledge, the provincial government has outlined the following actions:

·WorkSafeBC, the province’s workers’ compensation board, will immediately begin work on a policy on bullying and harassment and will include stakeholder consultation.

·The definition of violence will be expanded and will require employers to have formal prevention plans.

·WorkSafeBC will also develop a prevention toolkit for employers and workers.

·Through Bill 14, workers’ compensation will be expanded to include diagnosed mental disorders caused by significant work-related stressors, including bullying and harassment.

In addition, the B.C. employer community will play a leading role in preventing workplace bullying and harassment, by assisting in developing the toolkits and by sharing them with their members. This commitment comes from the Business Council of British Columbia, BC Chamber of Commerce, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C., the Employers Health and Safety Association and the Coalition of BC Businesses.

“Our government’s position on bullying is straightforward – it’s simply not acceptable at any level. That’s why one of the most important changes we made was to add specific references to bullying and harassment,” said Margaret MacDiarmid, Minister of Labour, Citizens’ Services and Open Government. “WorkSafeBC will develop and add new policy to the current violence in the workplace regulations and provide tools to address these destructive behaviours. Stakeholders will be consulted on this important work.”

Bill 14 provides broader compensation for work-related mental disorders, driven by recommendations brought forth over the last few months by various stakeholders throughout the province. They include:

·A new reference to bullying and harassment as a significant work-related stressor.

·A “predominant cause” test for mental disorders caused by significant work-related stressors.

·Revised wording from “mental stress” to “mental disorder”.

·A requirement for a diagnosis to be from a psychiatrist or psychologist, rather than from a physician.

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