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Bullying, Harassment, and Prohibited Action Initiative

The Bullying, Harassment, and Prohibited Action Initiative focuses WorkSafeBC resources on conducting education, consultation, and enforcement activities around workplace bullying, harassment, and prohibited action. This initiative addresses all industries, but there are three factors driving a stronger focus in certain sectors:

  • Small businesses, which may have more limited resources
  • Vulnerable industry sectors (e.g., those with young workers or high job insecurity)
  • Industries with a large number of complaints submitted to WorkSafeBC

Bullying, harassment, and prohibited action are provincial occupational health and safety issues that pose a risk to the physical and mental health and safety of workers. In 2019, WorkSafeBC responded to over 5,000 inquiries and complaints directly related to bullying, harassment, and prohibited action. A team of specially trained officers also responded to over 1,000 bullying and harassment questionnaires, and more than 500 prohibited action complaints.

Inspections completed in 2019 and 2020 show that the majority of employers have compliant bullying and harassment policies, procedures, and training in place. However, employer investigations into bullying and harassment demonstrate that many employers are still unsure how to address the issue in their workplace. Beginning in 2021, WorkSafeBC will increase support for employers to ensure that compliance requirements are understood.

Updates to Part 4 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation are anticipated in 2021 — these updates will move harassment from policy to regulation, and enhance regulation related to violence and harassment prevention. As part of this, in 2021 we will update WorkSafeBC’s practices and tools for employers to align with the new regulations.

Our goals

The goals of the Bullying, Harassment, and Prohibited Action Initiative are to:

  • Ensure continued customer service by way of continuity of service and timely responses
  • Update and streamline work practices related to harassment and prohibited action
  • Enhance workplace harassment outreach to address regulatory changes
  • Ensure employers have effective policies, procedures, and training in place to prevent and manage bullying and harassment

Our focus

  • Officers will promote employers’ compliance and actions to prevent and minimize bullying and harassment, including having effective policies, procedures, and training in place.
  • Officers will gather evidence relating to complaints of prohibited action in relation to exercising a right under Part 2 of the Workers Compensation Act, or reporting health and safety issues in the workplace.
  • Officers will assess employer's responses to workplace harassment, including investigating and implementing preventative and corrective measure in a fair and impartial manner.
  • Officers will respond to complaints of inadequate harassment procedures or inadequate responses to harassment by employers.
  • Officers will focus on employers in the hospitality, retail, and small business sectors. In addition, we will look at harassment prevention in the health care, construction, and agricultural sectors. We will engage these employers through a combination of outreach and inspections.
  • Officers will consult and educate within all sectors to support ongoing compliance.

Deliverables

  • Assess employer compliance through a targeted industry inspection strategy
  • Consult with industry sectors to understand challenges workers and employers face with sustained compliance related to harassment prevention
  • Enhance employer and worker understanding of employer, supervisor, and worker obligations with a goal of improving compliance
  • Review and update the bullying & harassment resource tool kit
  • Assist industry sectors with educational resources to develop and implement effective harassment prevention programs
  • Partner with industry associations to enhance policies and prevention practices in the construction sector
  • Complete an analysis of the 2020 Prime Contractor project on the awareness and implementation of bullying and harassment policies and procedures, and develop tools to assist with sustained compliance in this area

What you can do

Our bullying & harassment page provides resources and information to help you better understand and address some of the health and safety issues we'll be focusing on with our inspections and initiatives.