Attention all employers, you now have 27 days to establish a new policy for workplace bullying and harassment, or face the heavy hand of Work Safe B.C.
If you noticed the irony in that statement, good, because it’s just so ironic that one of the biggest bullies in the province is going to dictate anti-bullying policy to the rest of us.
For those of you who missed Wednesday’s information session at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver – h’mm, some of us do have to work – stakeholders and media were given the lowdown on what’s expected.
I couldn’t attend so I went online and read this definition of bullying and harassment as defined by Work Safe under its Occupational Health and Safety policy:
a. includes 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
b. excludes any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment.
Yes, I know, clear as muck.
Most of us understand that Work Safe is trying to educate the working public that bullying and harassment are unacceptable.
I’ve always taken that as a given and am fortunate to work in an environment where people behave with courtesy and professionalism towards others.
Others, I know, aren’t so fortunate, but I wouldn’t be relying on Work Safe BC to “save the day” if you’re working in a bad place.
In its own outline, Work Safe states there is no planned “enforcement blitz.” Rather, the provincial body will respond to enquires and complaints – but not all – and will rely on inspectors to ferret out the workplace bullies.
As well, a “victim” first needs to file an in-house report before any action, if any, is taken by Work Safe. Geez, I wonder how that will go over when you hand the complaint to the supervisor who’s named in the same report?
The other difficulty I have in Work Safe overseeing all this is its own track record. As our editor so charmingly put it, “Have you ever heard of a good story about someone filing a Work Safe claim?”
I’ve written and read far too many stories about injured workers who feel “bullied” by Work Safe in regard to how they’re treated by case workers, the massive amount of paperwork they’re expected to complete when they’re not well, or even Work Safe’s overruling of family doctors’ advise for their own patients.
In the end, I would rather have Work Safe inspectors looking for unsafe practices that can result in real physical harm to employees. This is a tangible goal and that’s what they do best.
But now, to ask them to determine who said what, or even someone’s mental state, well, that’s something that even the judicial system has trouble deciding.