Sweeping Changes to the Canada Labour Code Harassment and Violence in the Workplace Regulations

On June 24, 2020, the Minister of Labour announced the new Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations that will come into force on January 1, 2021. The regulations will amend the Canada Labour Code, and will replace Part XX of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. The following are some highlights of the legislation:

Assessment of Violence and Harassment in the Workplace

  • Employers must conduct a workplace assessment, in conjunction with a workplace health and safety committee or representative, to identify risk factors and develop preventative measures in relation to harassment and workplace violence. This includes an evaluation of workplace culture, physical design of the workplace and external factors that could give rise to workplace violence or harassment, and the implementation of preventative measures.

Development of Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy

  • The employer and the joint health and safety committee are required to develop a workplace harassment and violence policy with specific elements such as the respective roles of the employer, employees, and workplace health and safety representatives. They will also need to create a summary of training to be provided to all employees, a comprehensive resolution process and description of support measures that are available to employees.

Resolution Process (Notice of Occurrence)

  • In order to file a complaint or to report an “occurrence” (which is defined as any incident of workplace harassment or violence in the workplace), an employee is required to provide a notice of occurrence to the employer or the designated recipient in writing or orally.
  • Where a person provides a notice of an occurrence, an employer is required to respond within 7 days. The employer will then be required to inform the responding party and make “every reasonable effort to resolve an occurrence”, within 45 days.  The parties may attempt to resolve the matter through conciliation.

Investigation Process

  • If the matter is not resolved, it must be investigated if the “principal party” (person who is object of occurrence) requests it. An investigator must be selected from a pre-developed and jointly approved list, or by agreement of the parties involved. If an investigator is not agreed upon, the employer must select an investigator listed by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, as having training, knowledge and experience relevant to workplace harassment and violence.
  • An investigation report must be provided to the principal party, responding party and workplace committee or health and safety representative.

While the legislation is quite extensive, federally regulated employers have until January 1, 2021 to ensure that they are in compliance with its requirements.  We would be pleased to review your current policies and practices to ensure full compliance with these new Regulations. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.