Pink Shirt Day was inspired by a 2007 incident in Nova Scotia where a Grade 9 boy was bullied for wearing a pink polo shirt on his first day of school. Other students rallied in support of the bullied student and the movement was born. David Shepherd, Travis Price and their teenage friends organized a high-school protest to wear pink in sympathy with a Grade 9 boy who was being bullied. They took a stand against bullying when they protested against the harassment of a new Grade 9 student by distributing pink T-shirts to all the boys in their school. Bullying is a serious problem in our schools, workplaces, and over the internet and unfortunately bullies don’t disappear after school…they become adults, enter the workplace and quite often continue to bully.
On June 15th 2010 Ontario introduced an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety act related to the prevention of workplace violence and harassment. Bill 168’s intentions were that “everyone should be able to work without fear of violence or harassment, in a safe and healthy workplace”.
So what is workplace bullying? Bullying can be a hidden action that is difficult to detect and often dismissed as “personality conflicts”, however a bully’s activity can range from behaviours such as public humiliation, personal insults, over monitoring with malicious intent, ignoring or excluding, withholding information, constant criticism, spreading rumours, gossips or innuendos etc.
Bullying increases stress levels in your workplace for the person being bullied, but also for the people witnessing the bullying who may not know how to deal with the actions going on or feel intimidated about sharing it with a superior. Although it may seem difficult to legislate “appropriate behaviour”, Bill 168 outlines requirements to have the best possible preventative measures in place, as well as the tools to manage when a situation does occur. Conducting an assessment of your workplace and determining where your operation might be vulnerable to acts of violence and harassment is the first step in making changes to your business practices, reporting and investigation procedures, so your employees understand what their obligations are when faced with workplace violence and harassment situations.
Encourage respect in the workplace and be sure to emphasize that bullying is a very serious matter that will not be tolerated. Bullying is not limited to the schoolyard. The February 29th Wear a Pink Shirt day is a great way to educate about bullying and outline the resources available for help, and also revisit your Bill 168 policy and ensure it is effective in your organization.
For more information on Pink Shirt Day visit their website at www.pinkshirtday.ca For help on ensuring your organization is Bill:168 compliant click here, or view Clear Path’s Bill:168 Do-It-Yourself Package.
Image courtesy of www.pinkshirtday.ca
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Recently an article was posted in the Canadian HR Reporter, “Ontario could see spike in mental stress claims”. This article was very detailed in explaining the nature of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal’s decision on eliminating the requirement of physical threat when granting benefits for mental stress claims. We have summarized and highlighted the main points below:
In January the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) decided to eliminate the requirement of physical threat when granting benefits for mental stress claims. (Decision 483/11,)This will widen the number of claims being made, now that a physical event does not have to be the trigger for the mental stress claim. This opens the door for a variety of circumstances under which an employee might be able to receive compensation. It is estimated that 98% of mental stress claims would have been rejected prior to this decision, due to the absence of a physical threat.
The case that changed the nature of eligibility for mental stress benefits involved a female education assistant who sought benefits after she was falsely accused of striking a Grade 5 student in class. This individual had been an educator for more than 20 years, and was suspended while the school investigated the allegation. She was reinstated, however the worker’s physician reported that she experienced flashbacks of the moment of her suspension and avoided children, schools and playgrounds. The incident triggered memories of sexual and emotional abuse she experienced in her childhood. She was subsequently diagnosed with major depression. The tribunal found that the events she experienced were “objectively unexpected and traumatic” resulting in a disabling psychological condition.
Howard Levitt from Levitt law firm in Toronto agreed that “an allegation like that in the context of a teacher can lead to several major repercussions: one she could be criminally charged; two she could be precluded from ever teaching again…and three her reputation will be destroyed in newspapers, articles and otherwise, so there’s no question that what happened to her falls within the definition for traumatic mental stress benefits”.
While it has been long associated with mental health claims the board has decided that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is no longer the only required diagnosis to qualify for benefits entitlement. To apply for traumatic stress benefits the claimant, must first be diagnosed by a physician with an Axis 1 diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Any diagnosis under Axis 1 is acceptable such as general clinical disorders (PTSD), major depression autism, schizophrenia etc.
To be eligible for benefits the following must be proven:
Increasingly we are seeing that worker’s compensation claims are no longer limited to physical injury, and now with Decision 483/11 mental health, depression and stress claims will become more common. They are often more complex and difficult to resolve vs. physical injury claims. Minimize the possibility of mental health claims in your workplace by encouraging wellness, and offering appropriate support programs. The Great West Life Centre for Mental Health has a great website that offers workplace strategies for mental health.
If you have questions about handling a mental health claim, or managing a difficult claim please contact Anna Aceto-Guerin directly at email@example.com or by phone 519-624-0800.
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How many of you can relate to this scenario: Your NEER statement arrives in the mail and you immediately file it away in your desk? December rolls around and your Controller or Finance department approaches you inquiring why the company owes a surcharge to the WSIB? Are you able to explain why?
This is something we hear often when discussing NEER statements with HR Professionals. With so much on your plate already, learning how your NEER statement has been calculated and why you are potentially owing thousands of dollars to the WSIB can be overwhelming.
NEER is a very complicated system already, now factor in the new 4 year window and you really have a convoluted program. So what should you be looking for when you get your statement?
Looking ahead to September 2012 and your next NEER rebate or surcharge, it’s important to know if you currently have claims that are active in the 2012 year. Active claims or claims that are receiving of Loss of Earnings (LOE) benefits in the year of review (currently 2012), can significantly affect your NEER refund or surcharge. Your claims management process and the decisions you make regarding return to work and accommodation can swing a pending rebate to surcharge or potentially the other way around.
What do we mean?
(The following case study is based on an actual NEER Review. Names have been modified for confidentiality. The rating factor for Company A is 78.7%)
As a starting point, using the September 2011 NEER statement we can forecast Company A at a projected surcharge of $550,876.53 for September 2012. However to get a more true indication of what September 2012’s NEER rebate or surcharge will look like we need to review any currently active claims. Company A currently has a claim for John Doe in August of 2011 which is active as of the September 2011 statement: will this claim remain active into September 2012?
The following will have significant impact on Company A’s pending NEER costs:
Type of Claim
However if this worker continued to lose time until approximately June 2012, we are able to forecast that the NEER surcharge would only decrease to $249,872.97. In this case returning this employee to work by June 2012 does also reduce Company A’s surcharge but resulted in $251,003.56 savings in NEER costs.
Loss of Earnings (LOE) and when they are paid can have a significant impact on your NEER rebate or surcharge position in September. Clear Path’s approach to claims management is to return injured workers to work on suitable modified duties at full wages as soon as possible. Foster an early and safe return to work plan along with medical management and continual communication with your WSIB adjudicator and the employee. Understanding your NEER statement and how your costs will fluctuate is key to making sure your rebate is maximized or your surcharge is minimized.
In our upcoming workshop “Demystifying the WSIB’s NEER Program”, we discuss 10 case studies and how your RTW decisions can impact your pending September NEER rebate or surcharge.
Clear Path also offers a complimentary and confidential review of your most recent NEER statement by our WSIB claims specialists (a $250 value!). Our experts will forecast your costs for this year and identify areas of potential savings. You have nothing to lose and there is absolutely no obligation to utilize our services further. Fax your most recent NEER statement today to (519) 624-0860 for a complimentary review.
Clear Path has a particular specialty in cost-effective WSIB claims management, return-to-work (RTW) strategies and acquiring SIEF cost relief. Click here to learn more about our WSIB claims management services.
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The HRPA conference has just wrapped up, but we are still buzzing with excitement over what an amazing three days Clear Path had in Toronto at the conference. Between the tradeshow, attending keynote presentations and presenting two seminars of our own, it was a full three days!
We were so excited to have been chosen to speak on two topics this year. It is a prestigious honour to be chosen to speak once let alone twice, as up to potentially 4000 applications are submitted to the Conference Committee each year.
On Wednesday February 1st, Anna started the morning off by presenting “Averting a Crisis: Dealing with a Potential Bill: 168 Situation” to a full room of over 100 attendees! This session provided practical tips you should take to prevent or defuse workplace violence, ways to spot workplace harassment and best practices on how to manage these situations when they occur. Participants at the seminar had the opportunity to enter to win a Clear Path Do-It-Yourself Bill 168 Package. The lucky winner was Kimberley L. from Virtual High School! Congratulations Kimberley!
In the afternoon Anna and Brenda co-presented “Dealing with WSIB Repeat Offenders”. Combining real world case studies with practical how to tips, Anna and Brenda were able to bring their extensive background in WSIB Claims Management and provide a session that was both informative and engaging. Exploring the claims management process and employer obligations under WSIA and the new re-integration system participants learned strategies to deploy when faced with a WSIB “repeat offender” and examples of how medical professionals can be leveraged to support your injured employees, challenge medical evidence and get workers back to their pre-injury job. Congratulations to Asli A. from Concord Steel Centre Ltd. who was the lucky winner of the draw for a complimentary registration to an upcoming Clear Path learning session- “ Demystifying the WSIB’s NEER Program”!
Clear Path also kept busy live tweeting throughout the conference. We were mentioned as a top influencer twice on the HRPA Hashcaster board, and on Thursday February 2nd, we made top contributor! It was great to be so active and connected with fellow attendees during those three days! Follow Clear Path on Twitter, and check out what we were tweeting about during the conference!
Being at the HRPA conference and attending the keynote presentations was a very motivational, inspiring experience that makes you rethink not only your business approach but also choices you make in your personal life. A common theme from keynote speakers like Amanda Lang (of Lang&O’Leary), Marshal Goldsmith (renowned coach to leaders) and Neil Parischa (author of Book of Awesome) was “unleashing your inner 3 year old”. Learning to be innovative, take risks and exploring challenges to increase our productivity as individuals and organizations. One of the points that resonated was that “Play can change the world”-Kevin Carroll. Embracing creativity and promoting it within your organization, and not “swimming in a sea of sameness” –Josh Linkner were all great tips. All the keynote presentations left a lasting impression that it’s important to take stock, learning to appreciate the little things and be willing to take risks and seize the moment.
We encourage all our readers to embrace play, live outside the box, and don’t get sucked back into "the sameness" and miss opportunities that are right in front of you.
Thank you HRPA for an amazing three days! Can’t wait until the 2013 Conference!
View Clear Path’s HRPA Conference photos on Facebook
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Recently we wrote about how Mondays have the highest absence occurrence and how it can be a sign of dissatisfaction and low engagement with one’s job. Some studies are pointing to the reasons for absence as essentially boredom or employees who are feeling unfulfilled. At the other end of the spectrum employers are seeing increase in absenteeism because employees are stressed and overwhelmed by workload or expectations. These seemingly benign absences can lead to more long term issues such as lost productivity, claims and litigation.
An article written recently on MSNBC Careers highlights another potential risk associated with being bored on the job-employees turning to alcohol to cope.
A study of 102 office workers in the UK concluded that 25% were bored at work most of the time and that those individuals suffered from chronic boredom resulting in more stress, more absences and a desire to leave the position. A third of respondents indicated they were more likely to drink after a boring day of work. Alcohol and substance abuse as a coping mechanism has the potential of entering the workplace when it becomes a habit for an employee. This presents higher risk of employee absence, potential workplace violence issues and may lead the employee to take unnecessary risks such as vandalizing, stealing or sabotaging searching for stimulation to cure their boredom.
A sense of belonging and self- worth goes a long way to encourage engagement with your employees. Assessing the mental health needs of your workplace and creating a pro-attendance environment are one of the many strategies we discuss in our upcoming Employee Absence Does Not Make the Heart Grow Fonder learning session.
How are you creating a pro-attendance healthy work environment? Join us on Wednesday February 15th at the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce where we will discuss strategies for managing employee absence.
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In Ontario employers are not required to provide unpaid or paid sick leave, or paid benefit plans for sickness to employees. However, employees who work for employers that regularly employ at least 50 employees or more are entitled to unpaid emergency leave in certain situations under theEmployment Standards Act.
Some companies provide a designated number of sick days, while others have an accumulation process. As part of a sick pay program employers must decide whether or not employees are allowed to carry over their allotted sick days or accumulated hours of sick time from year to year. Some of the concerns include:
Are you encouraging the “use it or lose it” philosophy by reminding employees that if they don’t use sick time by the end of the year it’s gone? Employees may feel like they are losing out and feel the need to take the time off. These unplanned absences can result in lost productivity, lowered morale due to having to cover for the “sick employee”, and possibly starting a trend with other employees creating continual absence disruptions.
A possible alternative to combat the “use it or lose it” attitude could be to provide your employees with a set number of sick days, but if they don’t utilize them by the end of the year, they are rewarded with a year end bonus equal to the time off they didn’t use. As always be sure to promote that a healthy workplace is still top priority, and should someone be suffering from a contagious illness that could potentially affect others, staying home and using the sick time is the recommended and preferred option. You don’t want to encourage people coming in sick just to receive it back in the form of a bonus.
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