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ISSUE 2012-04: September 12, 2012

In This Issue

Special Workshop

WorkSafeBC initiatives on bullying and harassment


Harassment and bullying risk assessment


Preliminary 2013 rates — positive news for K-12 public education



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If you have questions about the issues contained in this bulletin, or any health, safety or wellness issue, please contact Sue Ferguson at 604 730 4502 or

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

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 Supervisors.

“Bullying and harassment” is defined as follows:

(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 include:

(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:

i.              sexual harassment; or

ii.             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

iii.            objectionable conduct, comment, materials or display made on either a one-time or continuous basis that demeans, belittles, intimidates, or humiliates another person; or

iv.            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

v.             such misuses of power or authority as intimidation, threats,coercion and blackmail.

b. The definition of "sexual harassment" shall include:

              i.        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

             ii.        any circulation or display of visual material of a sexual nature that has the effect of creating an uncomfortable working environment; or

            iii.        an implied promise of reward for complying with a request of a sexual nature; or

            iv.        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

             v.        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 risk assessment.

§  Following 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: .

§  BCPSEA 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.

§  A 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.

WSBC 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 years.

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.

WorkSafeBC consultation 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 kit.”

BC Public School Employers' Association
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