As of January 1, 2021, the new stand-alone Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations (the “Regulations”) will come into force to ensure employers prevent harassment and violence in federally regulated industries and workplaces. The Regulations will apply to all federal work places covered under Part II of the Canada Labour Code (the Code), including the federally regulated private sector, the federal public service and parliamentary work places. It will replace Part XX (violence prevention) of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (COHSR), as well as portions of two other regulations that include violence prevention provisions.
Once the Regulations come into force, employers must:
- Prepare the workplace harassment and violence prevention policy working jointly with the policy committee, the workplace committee, or the health and safety representative;
- Assess the risk of workplace harassment and violence;
- Inform and train employees, and participate in training themselves;
- When an incident of harassment or violence is reported, respond within seven days;
- Keep records on every incident of harassment and violence in the workplace and report annually to the Labour Program; and
- Implement corrective measures in response to the investigation report of an investigator to prevent future occurrences of harassment and violence.
Previously, under the Code there were separate regimes to deal with workplace violence and sexual harassment for federally regulated employers. This created an imbalance in treatment of these issues and coverage of different populations. Violence was dealt with under the occupational health and safety provisions (Part II). In contrast, sexual harassment was dealt with under the labour standards provisions (Part III) and did not apply to employees in the federally regulated public sector. The new Regulations create one regime for both workplace violence and sexual harassment under Part II of the Code which apply to both the federally regulated private and public sector.
Important Aspects of the New Regime
Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy: A workplace harassment and violence prevention policy must be jointly developed with the applicable partner (Policy Committee, Work Place Committee, or Occupational Health and Safety Representative). This policy must outline how the organization will address harassment and violence in their workplace. The policy must also outline how an employer is to be informed of external dangers, such as family violence.
Workplace Assessment: These assessments must be conducted jointly with the applicable partner and identify risks of harassment and violence in the workplace. The employer and applicable partner must then implement preventive measures to protect the workplace from these risks. The assessment must be updated and reviewed at least every three years.
New Training Requirements: The employer and the applicable partner must jointly identify or develop the training. It must be delivered to employees, employers and the designated recipient. The training materials must be reviewed and, if necessary, updated at least every three years.
New Support Measures: Employers must make available to employees information about the support services in their geographical area. They must also describe the support measures available to employees in their workplace harassment and violence prevention policy
Resolution Process: The Regulations include a resolution process that requires employers to communicate regularly with parties and provides multiple options for seeking resolution. The employer may try to resolve the issue through negotiated mediation or conciliation. If the matter is not resolved at this stage, an investigation of the incident must be carried out. An employer must ensure that the resolution process is completed within one year after the day on which notice of the occurrence is provided.
Enhanced Privacy Measures: To encourage employees to come forward, employers must put in place strong privacy protections. Employers must describe in their workplace harassment and violence prevention policy how they will protect the privacy of the persons involved in an occurrence, or the resolution process for an occurrence. If an investigator conducts an investigation, the final report must not reveal the identity of persons involved in an occurrence, or the resolution process for an occurrence (such as the complainant and the individual alleged, witnesses and any other persons).