“Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2015” has now been passed into law in Ontario and will be in force September 8, 2016.
Bill 132 in force September 8, 2016
by Carola Mittag,
on May 10, 2016 @ 12:00am
This means significant changes to Ontario’s workplace harassment rules, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and includes a much broader notion of “Workplace Harassment”.
Top 5 Facts of Ontario Bill 132 — Sexual Harassment
The concept of “workplace harassment” has been expanded beyond the current “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome”.
- An expanded definition of workplace harassment specifically includes sexual harassment. The combined definition includes:
- engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or
- engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or
- making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant, or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.
- An explanation of what is not workplace harassment, stating that a reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the workplace is not workplace harassment.
- A requirement for employers to consult with the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative on the development and maintenance of a written program to implement the workplace harassment policy.
- Additional content specified for the workplace harassment program including:
- measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace harassment to the employer or supervisor;
- measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace harassment to a person other than the employer or supervisor, if either are the alleged harasser;
- setting out how incidents or complaints of workplace harassment will be investigated and dealt with;
- setting out how information obtained about an incident or complaint of workplace harassment will not be disclosed unless necessary for the purposes of investigation or taking corrective action;
- setting out how the parties of an alleged harassment will be informed of the results of the investigation and of any corrective action that will be taken.
- Expanded duties for employers to protect a worker from workplace harassment, ensuring that:
- an investigation is conducted into incidents and complaints of workplace harassment that is appropriate in the circumstances;
- involved parties are informed in writing of the results of the investigation and of any corrective action that has or will be taken;
- the workplace harassment program is reviewed as often as necessary, but at least annually;
- information and instruction is provided for workers on the contents of the policy and program.
Employers will need to be prepared for these new requirements and review their current violence and harassment policies, procedures, and training programs. Workplace Safety Group can assist you.