Human Resources Legislative Update
Reminder: New Employer Workplace Harassment Obligations Now in Force
Date: September 8, 2016
Effective today, significant reforms to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) are in force, placing additional duties on employers with respect to the prevention of workplace harassment. As previously reported, these changes were outlined in Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016.
Among other things, the amendments:
- change the OHSA definition of “workplace harassment” to include “sexual harassment”
- require an employer to develop and maintain a workplace harassment program in consultation with its joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative, if any
- require an employer to establish a complaint mechanism for reporting complaints or incidents of workplace harassment and an investigation procedure to deal with such complaints or incidents
- require that an employer notify a complainant and respondent in writing of the results of an investigation and any corrective action taken
- provide a health and safety inspector with the power to order an employer, at its own expense, to have an investigation done into a complaint or incident of workplace harassment by an impartial third person.
The Ministry of Labour Code of Practice – which we discuss in our FTR Now of August 17, 2016 Ministry Releases Code of Practice to Guide Employers in New Workplace Harassment Obligations – provides further guidance with respect to implementation of these significant reforms.