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Employment law: Rights and responsibilities of employees

While it is true that employers in British Columbia are responsible for the health and safety of employees, workers also play a role in their own safety. Employment law mandates the rights and responsibilities of workers in all industries. Effective workplace safety requires all the involved parties to commit to their responsibilities.

Along with all their responsibilities, workers have three distinct rights. These include the right to be informed of all potential hazards, the right of participation in safety and health activities, and the right to refuse to do work that will threaten the worker's health or safety with no subsequent punishment. Workers must know that they also play essential roles in the safety of their co-workers.

Responsibilities include compliance with all safety standards related to their jobs, and the obligation to look out for hazards and report them to supervisors or employers immediately. Where applicable, workers must always wear personal protective equipment and use it correctly. They must also co-operate with all health and safety officers and report injuries as soon as possible. Injured workers must inform doctors if injuries are work-related and then follow the prescribed care and treatment before and after returning to work. Workers must never report for duty if they are overly tired or under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other substances.

British Columbia workers whose employee rights are violated, or whose employers challenge their injury benefits claims, should remember that they do not have to take on battles with employers without legal counsel. An experienced employment law lawyer can provide support and guidance along every step of the way. Legal counsel can explain the client's rights and advocate for him or her in ensuing proceedings.

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