Mental Stress, Bullying And Harassment In The Workplace

Author:Mr Earl Phillips
Profession:McCarthy Tétrault LLP
 
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The British Columbia government has introduced legislation to modify the WorkSafe BC approach to mental stress, and to compensate for bullying and harassment in the workplace.

The proposed amendment to the Workers Compensation Act (British Columbia) is significant and will result in new types of claims for compensation under the Act.  It is hard to predict the full impact, but it is likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars per year.

The important change is in the test for determining whether the mental disorder is compensable.  Under the current law, workers can only claim for "an acute reaction to a sudden and unexpected traumatic event".

Under the new law, that is changed to "a reaction to one or more traumatic events"  or "predominantly caused by a significant work-related stressor, including bullying or harassment, or a cumulative series of significant work-related stressors".

Both the current and new law are about injuries in the course of employment and require a diagnosis under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  Most importantly, the Act will still exclude from compensation problems caused by changes to working conditions, discipline or termination.

Nevertheless, the types of workplace...

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