Federal update: New workplace harassment and violence requirements effective January 1, 2021

July 8, 2020 | Zeinab Yousif

On June 24, 2020, the Federal Government published the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations (the “Regulations”). The Regulations set out requirements aimed at addressing workplace violence and harassment. They will come into force on January 1, 2021, replacing Part XX (Violence Prevention in the Work Place) of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, part of the Canada Labour Standards Regulations, and some health and safety regulations governing aviation, maritime, oil and gas, and on board trains.

The Regulations include the following requirements:

1. Conduct a risk assessment. The employer must work with the policy committee, or if there is no policy committee, the workplace committee or the health and safety representative (the “applicable partner”), to jointly carry out a workplace assessment that consists of the identification of prescribed risk factors and preventative measures. They must jointly monitor the accuracy of the assessment and update it in order to reflect any changes. The risk assessment must be reviewed and updated, if necessary, every three years, as well as on the occurrence of certain triggering events.

2. Prepare a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy. The employer and the applicable partner must jointly develop a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy. If the employer and the applicable partner cannot agree, the employer’s decision will prevail. The policy must contain, among other things, a mission statement, a description of the roles of the workplace parties, a description of risk factors, a summary of the training that will be provided, a summary of the complaint resolution process, a summary of emergency response procedures, privacy considerations, and support measures available to employees. The policy must be reviewed once every three years and following any change to an element of the policy.

3. Inform and train employees, and participate in training. The employer and applicable partner must jointly develop or identify training on workplace violence and harassment. The training must be specific to the culture, conditions and activities of the workplace and include:

  • elements of the policy;
  • a description of the relationship between workplace harassment and violence, and the prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act; and
  • a description of how to recognize, minimize, prevent and respond to workplace harassment and violence.

The training materials must be updated on a regular basis and the training must be conducted within specific timelines.

4. Provide information about support measures. Employers must make available to employees information about medical, psychological or other support services available in their geographic area.

5. Engage in the resolution and, where required, investigation process. When a report is received, the employer must contact the complainant within seven days. Employers must communicate with the parties regularly and provide multiple options for resolving the matter. The employer may try to resolve the matter through a negotiated mediation or conciliation. If it is not resolved, the employer must then investigate the incident in accordance with the Regulations. The investigator is to be selected from a list developed by the employer with the applicable partner, or, in another case:

  • a person that is agreed to by the employer and the parties; or
  • if there is no agreement within the prescribed period, a person among those whom the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety identifies as having the knowledge, training and experience.

The investigator must have:

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

The resolution process must be completed within one year from the day on which the notice of occurrence is provided.

6. Keep records on every incident of harassment and violence and report them annually to the Labour Program.

These and other changes will come into force on January 1, 2021. We encourage employers to begin reviewing and updating their existing workplace violence and harassment policies and programs as soon as possible to ensure that they are compliant by January 1, 2021.

Disclaimer

This publication is provided as an information service and may include items reported from other sources. We do not warrant its accuracy. This information is not meant as legal opinion or advice.

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