Federal anti-harassment and violence legislation coming into force January 2021

Specific protections against harassment and violence will be extended to federally-regulated employees with Bill C-65 and accompanying regulations coming into force on January 1, 2021. This legislation aims to strengthen provisions in the Canada Labour Code by including harassment and violence considerations in the existing framework.

What you need to know

The amendments from Bill C-65 and the accompanying regulations:

  • Apply to federally-regulated employers.
  • Define harassment and violence. Bill C-65 defines harassment and violence as any action, conduct or comment, including of a sexual nature, which can reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee, including any prescribed action, conduct or comment.
  • Require employers to prevent harassment and violence as part of their occupational health and safety obligations. This includes developing and making available a prevention policy and ensuring that employers and employees receive training in the prevention of harassment and violence in the workplace at least every three years.
  • Require employers to have a harassment and violence policy in place. This policy must be reviewed every three years and it must include the following: a mission statement, the role of workplace parties, the risk factors that contribute to harassment and violence, information about training, a summary of the resolution process, work place assessment details, a summary of emergency procedures, privacy protections, a description of any recourse and support measures available, and the name of a person designated to receive complaints. This policy must be available to employees.
  • Require employers to investigate complaints and occurrences of harassment and violence in the workplace. Employers must conduct an initial review of the notice of occurrence by a principal party or witness. An investigation must be carried out if the occurrence is not resolved by negotiated resolution or conciliation and the principal party requests an investigation. If an investigation is required, employers will have to follow the requirements regarding the qualifications of an investigator, how they may be appointed, the report the investigator must submit and how the employer will handle this report. Throughout the resolution process, the employer must provide monthly updates to the principal and responding parties regarding the status of the resolution process.
  • Require employers to record and report complaints and occurrences of harassment and violence in the workplace. Employers must maintain internal records and report annually all occurrences of harassment and violence to the Labour Program, including identifying the number of occurrences that were related to sexual harassment and violence (as well as non-sexual occurrences). Any investigator’s report must also be provided to the related parties.

To discuss these issues, please contact the author(s).

This publication is a general discussion of certain legal and related developments and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require legal advice, we would be pleased to discuss the issues in this publication with you, in the context of your particular circumstances.

For permission to republish this or any other publication, contact Janelle Weed.

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