British Columbia is the most recent province to take a stand against workplace bullying.
Amendments to the province’s Workers Compensation Act came into effect on July 1—meaning employers could now be on the financial hook for emotionally harmful work environments.
The new legislation amends the act’s definitions of harassment and injury, and enables workers suffering from a mental disorder resulting from “significant work-related stressors” to seek compensation through WorkSafeBC. Previously, WorkSafeBC claims were limited to workplace accidents or severe emotional stress resulting from a traumatic event or series of stressors “arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment.” Now, the legislation specifically names bullying and harassment as a work-related stressor.
To qualify for compensation, the employee must suffer from a mental disorder that has been diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist.
The legislation also introduces a requirement for employers with more than 10 employees to establish and implement a workplace harassment policy that includes measures for workers to report incidents of harassment and procedures for investigating such incidents.
British Columbia is the fifth province to pass legislation addressing workplace bullying. Quebec was the first, with its Act Respecting Labour Standards in 2004. In 2007, Saskatchewan expanded the definition of harassment under its Occupational Health and Safety Act to include bullying. Ontario followed suit in 2009 by expanding its definition of workplace harassment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In 2011, Manitoba made changes to its Workplace Health and Safety Act to include protection from workplace bullying.