New Federal Workplace Harassment and Violence Regime 

workplace harassment and violence

If your business or organization is federally regulated (e.g., banks, airlines, shipping, interprovincial trucking), you need to get ready for new federal workplace harassment and violence requirements coming into force on January 1, 2021. 

What is Considered Workplace Harassment and Violence?

Per the Canada Labour Code, federal workplace harassment and violence includes any action, conduct or comment, including of a sexual nature, that can reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee.

Steps to Implement Federal Workplace Harassment and Violence Rules

The new federal workplace harassment and violence regime is set out in the Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations.

Conduct an Assessment and Develop Preventative Measures

Employers and, as applicable, the policy or work place committee or health and safety representative must jointly conduct an assessment to identify harassment and violence risk factors, internal and external to the workplace. Within 6 months of the assessment, they must develop and implement preventive measures.

Develop a Workplace Policy

Employers and the committee/representative must jointly develop a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy.

The policy must include:

  • the employer’s mission statement regarding prevention of and protection against workplace harassment and violence;
  • roles of: employer, employees, committee/representative and designated recipient of harassment/violence occurrence in the workplace;
  • risk factors, internal and external, that contribute to workplace harassment and violence;
  • harassment/violence training;
  • name of the supervisor designated to receive a complaint;
  • a resolution process, including: name or identity of designated recipient, and how to notify the employer or designated recipient of an occurrence;
  • reasons for reviewing/updating a workplace assessment due to occurrences;
  • a summary of emergency procedures – to be implemented if there is an immediate danger (or threat of such danger) to employee health and safety;
  • procedures for protecting privacy;
  • any recourse available to persons involved in an occurrence;
  • support measures.

Employers must make the policy and emergency procedures available to employees.

Provide Employee Information

Employers must provide employees with information respecting the medical, psychological or other support services that are available within their geographical area.

Investigate Employee Complaints

Employees may file a complaint regarding workplace harassment and violence with their supervisor or another designated person. 

The employer, complainant and respondent must make every reasonable effort to resolve an occurrence. They may agree to try to resolve an occurrence by conciliation. 

If an occurrence is not resolved through negotiation or conciliation, an investigation of the occurrence must be commenced (if the complainant so requests). Employers must appoint an investigator who:

  • is trained in investigative techniques;
  • has knowledge, training and experience that are relevant to harassment and violence in the workplace; and
  • has knowledge of the Canada Labour Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act and any other legislation applicable to harassment and violence in the workplace.

The investigator’s report must include:

  • a general description of the occurrence;
  • their conclusions, including those related to the circumstances in the workplace that contributed to the occurrence; and
  • their recommendations to eliminate or minimize the risk of a similar occurrence.

The report cannot reveal, directly or indirectly, the identity of persons who are involved.

Employers must provide a copy of the report to the complainant, respondent and, as applicable, the committee/representative. The employer and committee/representative must jointly determine which report recommendations to implement.

How Compliance Works Helps HR Professionals

Compliance with constantly changing federal employment laws can be challenging and time consuming. Compliance Works helps HR professionals to understand their responsibility to comply with federal employment standards, as well as those across Canada.

Federal Workplace Harassment and Violence Requirements

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About the author

Lesha Van Der Bij
Lesha Van Der Bij CEO and Co-Founder, Compliance Works
Lesha is a senior lawyer who spent many years of her legal career at major Canadian law firms reviewing legislation and creating easy-to-understand summaries for clients.

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