Disrespectful behaviour has negative effects in the workplace. This is demonstrated in research as well as explained in the stories we hear from our company’s long history of having dealt with this topic. Although improvements have been made, more changes are to come. In Alberta, Bill 208 seeks to provide protection against workplace bullying by further defining harassment as set out in the OHS legislation. Will your policy be up to date considering these potential changes?
Introduction of the Bill
On Nov 9, 2016, Bill 208 passed first reading in the Alberta Legislature. The bill was introduced by Calgary MLA Craig Coolahan in response to a constituent who came forward with their experience of workplace harassment. The intent of the bill is to ensure “every employee has the right to work in an environment free from psychological harassment and bullying. This bill would amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act to include a specific definition of psychological violence and add prohibitions for psychological violence in the workplace.”
What it means
A safe workplace is more than keeping employees physically safe. Emotional and psychological wellness is equally as important for an employees health. Did you know 500,000 Canadians will miss work this week due to mental health issues or illness? Imagine the cost to employers. Companies who take action on physical AND mental health are taking steps to protect their most valued asset – their people.
As WestJet learned this past August, the importance of updated policies and continued education of staff is critical. After a flight attendant sued WestJet following sexual harassment allegations, a review of WestJet’s operating practices resulted in recommendations including:
- A need to review and update their policy
- Education (train staff to ensure issues are handled consistently)
Risk Management, compliance and accessibility to the policy were also noted in the review.
Stay tuned. In Spring of 2017 we will be offering an information session on Bill 208 and have newly updated Workplace Respect Materials to reflect the pending changes in legislation. We would be happy to discuss options for your organization to help you keep the conversation current.
Links and resources:
Psychological Health & Safety: An Action Guide for Employers (free download)
Call 211 – Edmonton and Area information/referral service connecting people to a full range of social, health and government services.
Workplace Bullying Institute (US) – Comprehensive site for Workplace Bullying resources and information