Federally-regulated employers in Canada must develop a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy and assess the organization’s risks by 2021. The recently published Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations will take effect, along with Bill C-65, on 1 Jan 2021. These employee protections are part of reforms to the Canada Labour Code featured in four omnibus bills that received Royal Assent in 2017 and 2018.
Bill C-65 defines harassment and violence as “any action, conduct or comment, including of a sexual nature, that can reasonably be expected to cause offense, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee, including any prescribed action, conduct or comment.”
Employers with 300 or more employees will conduct the workplace risk assessment with the policy committee; employers with 20 to 299 employees will conduct the assessment with the workplace committee; and employers with less than 20 employees will conduct the assessment with their health and safety representative. Internal and external workforce risk factors must be identified, taking into account:
Employers must develop preventive measures within six months after the risk factors have been identified.
The regulations outline the required elements of a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy, and the procedures employers must implement to respond to incidents. While policies can differ, all must:
The policy must be made available to all employees and updated at least every three years. Employers must also keep records on every incident of harassment and violence in the workplace and report them annually to the Labour Program.
Employers must conduct training specific to the culture, conditions and activities of the workplace and include:
Employers must ensure that existing employees receive training by 1 Jan 2022. New hires must receive training within three months of starting employment. Retraining must occur at least every three years or when there is an update.