Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2011 (Bill 14) and Policy on Harassment and Bullying
Please note that we have
scheduled a special workshop on
the issue of developing respectful workplaces. The workshop will also
review the definitions of harassment and bullying, and the avenues to
deal with complaints through investigation processes that comply with
collective agreement provisions and WorkSafeBC (WSBC) pending policy.
The workshop will be held on October
12, 2012 at Sea Island School, Richmond, BC.
Please register online at bcpseaevents.xplorex.com.
WorkSafeBC initiatives on bullying and harassment
WSBC is working with employer
and employee representatives to develop a “tool box” for employer
programs on bullying and harassment.
The policy was approved to be
released for consultation at the end of May. The discussion paper on “New Occupational Health and Safety Policies on Workplace
Bullying and Harassment” is currently out for consultation; the
consultation process is scheduled to end September 28.
WSBC is using Section 3 General
Provisions as the legal basis for the policy. Specifically, the enabling
sections are Section 115, General Duties of Employers; Section 116,
General Duties of Workers; and Section 117, General Duties of
“Bullying and harassment” is defined as
(a) includes any inappropriate vexatious
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,
offended or intimidated, but
(b) excludes any reasonable action taken
by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of
workers or the place of employment.
Workplace hazards are typically addressed
in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation using a risk assessment
approach that includes identifying the hazards, assessing the risks, and
eliminating the risks, if possible, or minimizing the risks to the extent
practicable. The proposed policies adopt this risk assessment approach to
address workplace bullying and harassment. The use of this risk
assessment approach makes the proposed policies more explicit and
comprehensive than the provisions in some other jurisdictions
The steps that WSBC considers
to be reasonable to address the hazard of bullying and harassment
(a) performing a risk
assessment considering a number of factors;
(b) developing and
implementing written policies, procedures and work environment
arrangements to eliminate, where possible, or otherwise minimize the
risks to workers from bullying and harassment;
(c) developing and
implementing procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace
bullying and harassment;
(d) reviewing the policy,
procedures and work environment arrangements periodically;
(e) investigating and
documenting complaints or incidents of bullying and harassment;
(f) taking necessary
corrective action to eliminate, where possible, or otherwise, minimize
the risks of workplace bullying and harassment;
(g) informing workers who may
be exposed to the risk factors of workplace bullying and harassment of
the nature and extent of the risk.
BCPSEA will be responding to the policy
and we would appreciate receiving any of your comments as well as copies
of any responses you send to WSBC.
School districts across BC
already have policy regarding harassment. When two employees are
involved, the collective agreement process must be followed. It
includes provisions for investigation and disclosure of information. A
site-based committee is not entitled to a harassment report.
The most common definition of
harassment in our sector is in Article E.2 of the Provincial Collective
Agreement (PCA) between BCPSEA and the BC Teachers’ Federation:
For the purpose of this
article harassment shall be defined as including:
sexual harassment; or
any improper behaviour that is directed at
or offensive to any person, is unwelcome, and which the person knows or
ought reasonably to know would be unwelcome; or
objectionable conduct, comment, materials
or display made on either a one-time or continuous basis that demeans,
belittles, intimidates, or humiliates another person; or
the exercise of power or authority in a
manner which serves no legitimate work purpose and which a person ought
reasonably to know is inappropriate; or
such misuses of power or authority as
intimidation, threats,coercion and blackmail.
b. The definition of
"sexual harassment" shall include:
any comment, look, suggestion, physical
contact, or real or implied action of a sexual nature which creates an
uncomfortable working environment for the recipient, made by a person who
knows or ought reasonably to know such behaviour is unwelcome; or
any circulation or display of visual
material of a sexual nature that has the effect of creating an
uncomfortable working environment; or
an implied promise of reward for complying
with a request of a sexual nature; or
a sexual advance made by a person in
authority over the recipient that includes or implies a threat or an
expressed or implied denial of an opportunity which would otherwise be
granted or available
and may include a reprisal or a threat of
reprisal made after a sexual advance is rejected.
Districts need to review
their procedures to ensure that the definition and process are clear when
employees are involved in a harassment or bullying incident. The PCA
language outlines the process for employee-to-employee complaints but
does not deal with circumstances, for example, when the alleged harasser
is a student or member of the public, such as parents. Who and how such
complaints will be dealt with should be in regulation or procedure linked
to the policy.
Harassment must include
personal harassment in addition to sexual harassment.
All staff need some training
in awareness and process.
Harassment and bullying
is a link to a survey to assist with a risk assessment for harassment
and bullying. Districts may wish to modify and/ or use a similar
approach: . http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JHQQ9R2
has training options available to school districts to assist in the
ongoing training of employees: a train-the-trainer model for awareness
training, and the Awareness and Prevention of
Harassment online program.
WSBC officer could be called in to review how the employer is dealing
with harassment and bullying because of an employee report. WSBC will
be looking for policy and process to be in place to deal with
complaints. They do not conduct investigations.
Preliminary 2013 rates — positive news for K-12 public education
WSBC has announced the 2013 preliminary
rates — see the announcement here. Rates for public school districts can be found here.
announced that the average
base premium rate is
projected to increase by about 5% to $1.62 per $100 of employers’
assessable payroll. Sixty-five percent of employers will experience an
increase. This represents the first average base rate increase in nine
The public school sector
is one of thirty-one percent to experience a decrease (the decrease is
not due to changes in the actual cost of claims).
WSBC has offered two
options: (1) the public school base rate can fall from .55 per $100 of
assessable payroll to .52 per $100 of assessable payroll, which is a 5.5%
decrease, OR (2) the rate can be held stable at 0.55.
The WSBC Board has committed
$2.8 million from their Capital Reserve to buffer the immediate effect of
increases. Either option will see the $2.8 million committed to the
K-12 Rate Group Balance. As increases will naturally occur for 2014 even
if the cost performance remains unchanged, leaving the funds from the
Capital Reserve in the Rate Group Balance will buffer expected increases
in 2014. This will be decided by the Board through resolution during the
October WSBC Board meeting.
The amount of maximum
wage per employee is rising to $73,700 from $71,700 in 2012.
information specific to K-12 education was shared on September 6, 2012.
The drivers in the average premium rate include decreased investment
income, increased costs due to improved mortality rates, and other
factors not related to actual improved incident statistics or decreased
duration. In education, these have been relatively stable over the past
few years. Our decrease is due to the WSBC Board drawing down the Capital
Reserve to buffer the immediate effect. They have committed $2.8 million
to reduce the experience rate in the K-12 sector.
If the assumptions on which
WSBC is basing the estimated rate setting prove correct, districts can
expect an increase in the experience rate for 2014, commencing in January
2014, of 20% over the 2013 $0.52 per $100 of assessable payroll.
The projected rates for all
districts will be available shortly after the WSBC Board approves the
rates at their October 11 meeting.
Districts wishing a detailed
picture of their own claims profile can generate this by using the Secure
Connect section of the WSBC website and accessing “Business planning tool