First published on Tuesday, Apr 19, 2022

Last updated on Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Occasionally, an employee may raise a concern surrounding their job role, happiness, or management. This is completely normal for any company, and how you deal with their concerns moving forwards is crucial.

As an employer, you shouldn’t penalise someone for raising an issue. You certainly shouldn’t retaliate in a way that could have a detrimental effect on morale productivity and retention.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what reprisal is, examples of reprisals at work, and, how to avoid them in your company.

What is Reprisal in the Workplace?

Reprisal at work comes in a variety of forms. Other than discriminating against a person or group of people on a daily basis, there are other forms of workplace reprisal that you need to be aware of as an employer.

Examples of Reprisal by the Employer

  • Firing or threatening to fire an employee.
  • Suspending, disciplining, or threatening to discipline an employee.
  • Intimidating an employee to work overtime or extra hours.
  • Reducing an employee’s hours without just cause.
  • Denying an employee a promotion or raise.

As an employer, there are steps you can take in order to avoid reprisals in your business.

How to Avoid Reprisal in Your Workplace

It’s important you work to remove any fear of reprisal in the workplace. The last thing you want is your staff to feel they can’t voice any concerns:

  • Treat all your employees consistently and fairly.
  • Make your employees aware of the process so they can raise any issues they may have, ensuring transparency throughout your company.
  • Clearly explain your expectations and anti-discrimination policies that your business has.
  • Work to establish an open door policy so employees feel comfortable in coming to you with any problems.

Provincial Laws Surrounding Workplace Reprisals

There are different legislations surrounding workplace reprisals across Canada. Make sure you’re aware of the laws of the province in which you’re based:

Workplace Reprisal in Ontario

The Employment Standards Act (ESA), Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and

Human Rights Code, state that reprisals are prohibited within the workplace. If an employee feels they have been a victim of employer reprisal in Ontario, they may commence a legal claim against you.

The court or tribunal may order you to pay the employee compensation. However, if you want to appeal this decision – you can make a request to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, Human Rights Commission, or the applicable court.

Workplace Reprisal in Alberta

The Occupational Health and Safety Legislation gives employees the right to refuse dangerous work, whilst being protected from reprisal. Employees can refuse to work on provincially regulated work sites if they believe a hazard can cause harm to themselves or others.

More information on refusing dangerous work can be found on the Alberta Government Website.

Employees are also protected from discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act.

The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistle-blower Protection) Act protects employees against reprisals for exercising their rights. Under this Act, it’s an offence to engage in acts of reprisal against an employee.

Employees can make a complaint to the Public Interest Commissioner.

Workplace Reprisal in British Columbia

In British Columbia, employees are protected under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA). Under the PIDA, it’s an offence to commit a reprisal against an employee.

Committing a reprisal could be subject to a penalty of up to $25,000 for a first offence, and up to $100,000 for every offence afterwards.

Like Ontario and Alberta, British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act and health and safety legislation also work to help employees who want to make a complaint.

Avoid Workplace Reprisals Today with BrightHR

You must never penalize employees for asserting their rights in the workplace. Most of the time if a concern is raised by an employee regarding their job, it’ll help to listen as it could improve your business. A transparent business is a successful business.

If you need assistance with your policies, BrightHR has a handy tool that will make the whole process easier for you.

Our HR Document Storage allows you to manage your policies and make changes when required.

Contact us on 18882204924 or book a demo today.

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