Harassment in the federal public service has increased: Survey

The latest results of the annual survey of the public service show a disturbing rise in workplace harassment and a significant rate of workplace stress.

“This is a very disturbing trend,” said Robyn Benson, PSAC National President. “Departments and agencies need to act on this and ensure public service workplaces are safe and healthy.”

The annual survey of federal public service workers was taken in February and March of this year. It is a shorter version of the Public Service Employee Survey, which is taken every three years.

Harassment, discrimination and poor workplace mental health for many

One-third of public service workers (34%) said their workplace stress was “high” or “very high”. A similar number of respondents (27%) felt that their workplace was not “psychologically healthy.”

The percentage of workers who said they have been harassed at work was up to 22% from 19% in 2014. The results were even higher for equity groups, with the highest rates of harassment (40%) being reported by workers with disabilities. Aboriginal workers also reported high rates of harassment (33%).

Discrimination at work is also a growing problem. The survey shows a higher rate of employees who said they were victims of discrimination at work, particularly for members of equity groups. In the survey, discrimination was reported by 32% of workers with disabilities, 20% of Aboriginal workers, and 19% of “visible minority” or racialized workers. In all cases, those numbers were up from the previous survey in 2014.

Work of Joint Task Forces clearly needed

PSAC and Treasury Board recently began work on two important joint initiatives: the Joint Task Force on Mental Health and the Joint Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion. Both of these bodies are made up of representatives from the union and the employer.

“The survey results show the urgent need for this work to continue,” said Benson. “In the years to come, surveys like this will be the benchmark of how successful we are at addressing these important issues.”



June 14, 2017