Memo: New Provincial Government Health & Safety Legislation: Bill 14 – Bullying and Harassment (Oct. 31, 2013)

Memorandum
Date: Oct. 31, 2013
From: Lisa Castle, Vice President, Human Resources, and Ron Holton, Chief Risk Officer, Risk Management Services
To: Heads Up and Administrators
Subject: New Provincial Government Health & Safety Legislation: Bill 14 – Bullying and Harassment


The purpose of this memorandum is to provide information about this new health and safety legislation to address bullying and harassment in the workplace, and the University’s plans to address the requirements of the legislation.

Background

WorkSafeBC is the operating name of the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of BC, and it is the exclusive workers’ compensation insurer in BC. WSBC administers claims for work-related injury, illness and disease. Decision making at WorkSafeBC is governed by the Workers Compensation Act.

Changes to the Workers Compensation Act – Bill 14

The recent passing of Bill 14 has resulted in changes to the Workers Compensation Act, and of particular note, stronger WorkSafeBC rules on the prevention of bullying and harassment in the workplace. Effective November 1, 2013, employers are required to take all “reasonable steps” to ensure the health and safety of their employees as it relates to bullying and harassment.

Definition

WorkSafeBC defines bullying and harassment as “any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated, but excludes any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers ”. The “person” referred to in the previous sentence includes any individual, whether or not they are a staff or faculty member of the University (ex. employee, student, member of the public).

Reasonable Steps

The following is a list of the employer’s obligations with the introduction of the new rules:

  1. A policy statement that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated.
  2. Actions to prevent or minimize bullying and harassment.
  3. Communication to employees of the policy statement and preventative steps.
  4. Specific procedures for employees to report bullying and harassment, including when a supervisor is the perpetrator.
  5. Specific procedures on how to deal with complaints including investigations, roles, and corrective actions.
  6. Training employees on recognizing, responding, and reporting bullying and harassment.
  7. Annually reviewing employee policies and procedures.

Impact on the University

The University already takes bullying and harassment in the workplace very seriously, and we have introduced a variety of policies, a Respectful Workplace Statement, as well as a variety of training and awareness sessions to supervisors and staff. We have also worked with the unions and associations that represent many of our staff and faculty to ensure collective agreement language addresses this important issue. However, the introduction of WorkSafeBC’s obligations provides the University with the opportunity to review our existing policies and procedures as they relate to bullying and harassment to ensure they fully meet the requirements of WorkSafeBC.

Current guidance with regard to the prevention and response to bullying and harassment can be found in a number of documents at UBC, including the following:

In addition to the review of these documents we will consult with the University Health & Safety Committee to ensure that we are addressing other employer obligations as outlined above. Where deficiencies in existing policies, procedures and training are identified, we will develop and communicate a plan for addressing them.

Please ensure that all faculty and staff with management responsibilities within your unit, department or Faculty are:

  • advised of these changes;
  • reminded of their obligations for creating a respectful workplace free of bullying and harassment;
  • aware of their obligation to investigate all incidents of bullying and harassment that are either brought to their attention or witnessed. Attached for your reference are WorkSafeBC “fact sheets” outlining the responsibilities of Supervisors, Workers, and the Employer.

Finally, all staff and faculty should be reminded of the Respectful Environment Statement, and should know how to raise concerns with regard to bullying and harassment.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact your HR Advisor.

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