The federal government announced that its new Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations (“Regulations”) and related amendments to Part II of the Canada Labour Code (“Code”) will come into force on January 1, 2021.
The amendments to the Code strengthen and broaden the laws that address and aim to prevent harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, in federally regulated workplaces. The new Regulations set out detailed requirements that federally regulated employers will be required to meet in order to satisfy their harassment and violence prevention obligations in the workplace. Among other things, the new Regulations require:
- the employer and the policy or workplace committee to jointly identify risk factors that contribute to harassment and violence in the workplace, and develop preventative measures to mitigate those risks;
- the joint development of a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy that contains mandatory elements;
- the joint development of emergency procedures that are to be implemented if there is an occurrence or threat of harassment or violence that poses an immediate threat to the health and safety of any employee;
- mandatory harassment and violence prevention training for all employees;
- new, more robust, time-limited complaint resolution procedures that include provision for negotiated resolution, conciliation and/or investigations by an investigator selected from a list pre-approved by the employer and the policy or work place committee, agreed to by the parties to the complaint or, failing such agreement, selected from a list of investigators pre-qualified by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety; and
- detailed new record-keeping and reporting obligations.
In order to be compliant with these amendments to the Code and the new Regulations, federally regulated employers will need to consult with their policy or workplace committee and review and update their existing harassment and violence prevention policy and procedures. In the explanatory note accompanying the order fixing January 1, 2021 as the date the legislative amendments will come into force, the federal government acknowledged that “employers will face some increased financial and administrative costs and burdens as a result of these legislative amendments”.