Canadian HR Reporter

September 2020 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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2 N E W S to adequately address occurrences of sexual harassment and sexual violence," according to the federal government. The legislation will apply to all federal workplaces covered under the Canada Labour Code, including the federally regulated private sector — such as finance, telecom and transportation — the federal public ser vice and parliamentary workplaces. The legislation shouldn' t come as a surprise for many of the large corporations that are affected, such as banks or the media, that have been addressing the issue for years, says Barry Kuretzky, a partner at Littler in Toronto. "It's pretty straightforward because it sets up the basic principles that everybody wants in their workplace: clear, unambiguous rules as to how people are to be treated respectfully in the workplace; a process when something isn't moving in the right direction; and a means for resolution in a positive way." However, the new regulations are "more prescriptive and cumbersome" than current workplace harassment requirements under occupational health and safety legislation, says Laura Freitag, an associate at Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti in Toronto. "A lot of the really sophisticated federally regulated employers have these policies in place, they have some type of workplace harassment and violence prevention policy, [but] the question really is what do they need to add to those policies? I think, for the most part, we're going to see policies in terms of scope becoming a little more comprehensive and now there's a specific procedure Prevention policies and training 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 offence, humiliation or other physical or psycho- logical injury or illness to an employee, including any prescribed action, conduct or comment." This is really an expansion of harass- ment and violence in the workplace, says Raso. "The definition is quite broad now and I think that will take a while for employers to understand that it doesn't have to be the most egregious type of conduct that requires following this process." As part of the new rules, employers will have to jointly conduct a workplace assessment that identifies risk factors related to harassment and violence in the workplace and develop and implement preventive measures to protect the workplace from these risks. "Employers are becoming more aware that, at the end of the day, there are lots of dangers and there are lots of violence risks that happen both inside and outside the workplace, and that, where appropriate, precautions and measures should be taken in order to ensure that the workplace is safe for all employees," says Freitag. At least every three years, the assess- ment will need to be reviewed and, if necessary, updated, says the government. "The risk assessment that an employer conducts, and then the recommendations that they have for eliminating those risks, will tie into the policy," says Fong. "To start, I would recommend employers that is provided for that will have to be included." The new rules really empower the employee and take away some of the normal decision-making power that employers have around investigations, says Andrea Raso, a partner at Clark Wilson in Vancouver. "It's a bit of a change of what we have seen in the past in terms of really giving control of the situation not just to the employer but to the other parties involved," she says. "The prevention side of things are fairly onerous, and that's what employers are going to have to do immediately, which is why I think they've been given some leeway to get themselves ready for it." have a look at the workplace assessments and risk factors because that will be the step one that they need to look at and develop to ensure that their policies and training are in compliance." Employers will also be required to jointly develop and make available a prevention policy that outlines information on how their organization will address harassment and violence in their workplace. "The vast majority of workplaces have policies and procedures for dealing with harassment and violence, but with the new regulations, they've imposed more specific obligations — probably the most specific I've seen, and they will take time and effort for employers to ensure that their policies meet what the regulations want them to do," she says. Employers will also be required to jointly identify or develop harassment and violence training and ensure it is delivered to employees at least every three years, providing instruction on the elements of the prevention policy, as well as how to recognize, minimize, prevent and respond to workplace harassment and violence. The training obligations will require significant time to implement, says Fong. "All employees require training within one year of the regulations coming into force — this includes both employees and managers. And then anyone who is hired that is new will need training within three months of being hired." 'Designated recipients' for investigations Employers must respond to every notice of an occurrence — formerly known as a MANAGERS, PEERS COMMON SOURCES OF HARASSMENT Source: Statistics Canada "It will take a while for employers to understand that it doesn't have to be the most egregious type of conduct that requires following this process." Andrea Raso, Clark Wilson 19% Percentage of women who said that they had experienced harassment in their workplace in the past year 13% Percentage of men who said that they had experienced harassment in their workplace in the past year 39% Percentage of men (and 32% of women) who said their supervisor or manager was the source of harassment 35% Percentage of men (and 34% of women) who said they were harassed by a colleague or peer Harassment rules> pg. 1

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