Framework provided for employee health, safety and conduct that wasn’t previously set out
Christine Beyleveldt // News Editor
Four new internal governance policies were approved by the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) board of directors on Nov. 3, and these are just the most recent of nine internal human resources policies in total that will set out acceptable employee behaviour and workplace health and safety. These new policies cover appropriate use of CSU-owned technology, impairment and employees’ psychological health. Also among the new set of policies is an Employee Standard of Conduct, which instructs board members to maintain confidentiality of in-camera business discussed during board meetings, unless they are given express permission to act as a spokesperson on behalf of the CSU.
General Manager Chris Girodat drafted the Psychological Health in the Workplace Policy using the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Group’s National Mental Health Standard, and it deals specifically with student executives and CSU staff. The CSU’s Mental Health Strategy was drafted by President and Vice President Finance and Services Perry Safari and Vice President Equity and Sustainability Owen Sigurdsson, is different, and it concerns the Capilano University student population. At its last stage, the Social Justice Committee was reviewing it, and Sigurdsson hopes to provide a draft to the board by Dec. 15.
The mandate of the Psychological Health in the Workplace policy, however, is to resolve workplace issues that affect the mental well being of CSU employees, foster mutual respect, trust and understanding and mindfulness of mental health challenges during the recruiting process. “This draft policy is meant to further our effort to comply with the Canadian Standard Association’s relatively new mental health standard, which is a fairly comprehensive set of standards, which are recommended as best practice,” Girodat told the board before they approved of the policy. He added that the CSU already has a legal duty to accommodate current employees. Under the new policy however, they will take an active role in accommodating mental health challenges when they release job postings and conduct interviews.
In April, the CSU also approved a Health and Safety Policy, as well as Violence-free Workplace and Harassment-free Workplace policies. These are designed to contribute towards a healthy and productive workplace, whereas some of the more recent introductions, including Impairment in the Workplace, Employee Standard of Conduct and Appropriate Use of Technology, place guidelines on workplace practices and behaviour. According to Girodat, the new policies haven’t been drafted because the CSU has been having issues with employee behaviour, rather because they felt it was in their best interest to codify existing practices that would provide clarity to the board of directors.
The policy concerning workplace impairment takes into account that recreational marijuana use will be legalized on July 1. “We’re looking to be ahead of the eight ball on modernizing our approach to dealing with impairment in the workplace,” said Girodat. What CSU employees chose to do on their own time is their business, he added, but they can’t expect to perform duties for the CSU or any other workplace while impaired according to BC law.
“We respect each other’s privacy, we do not engage in the controversial practice of testing for substance abuse or addiction,” he said. Instead, employees will be monitored if there is an issue with substance use that needs to be addressed and a drug test will never be administered randomly. They will also work to aid any members in their recovery from substance abuse or addiction. If issues of impairment can’t be addressed, stricter measures may need to be taken that include discipline or even dismissal from the CSU.
The recently implemented policies don’t actually introduce changes to the way the CSU is run. Rather they put existing expectations on paper. According to Girodat, when human resources are run effectively, staff and student executives have a higher morale that will allow them to better serve CapU students.