Impending federal regulations on workplace violence and harassment

New workplace harassment and violence rules will apply to Federally Regulated Employers. The public policy agenda behind these and similar initiatives is that proper training, policies, procedures and investigations can reduce the frequency and severity of workplace harassment and violence, therefore making them important pieces in the risk management toolkit, in addition to being legal requirements.

The federal government has just released proposed regulations, set to come into force in conjunction with the harassment and violence amendments to the health and safety sections of the Canada Labour Code, which will be effective sometime in 2020. These regulations outline, in greater detail, employers’ anticipated obligations relating to workplace harassment and violence. In particular, the regulations contain the following upcoming requirements for employers:

  • Develop a workplace violence and harassment prevention policy which also accounts for external dangers, such as family violence and stalking, which could affect the workplace;
  • Conduct a workplace assessment that identifies risks of violence and harassment in the workplace and implement preventive measures to protect the workplace from these risks;
  • Develop and implement emergency procedures to be followed where an occurrence of workplace violence or harassment poses an immediate danger to employees;
  • Ensure training is delivered to members of the workplace (this includes training on crisis prevention, personal safety, and de-escalation techniques);
  • Make information available regarding support services;
  • Implement a new resolution process for occurrences of workplace violence and harassment, requiring employers to respond to every notification of an occurrence and pursue either early resolution, conciliation, or investigation; and,
  • Keep various records regarding harassment and violence in the workplace.

The amendments and regulations are set to come into force in 2020, although no exact date has been provided as of yet, but the early release of the proposed regulations suggests that the government is expecting employers to take advantage of this advance notification and promptly establish compliance steps now.

These amendments will apply to employers who are regulated by federal employment legislation. Federally regulated employers  are typically engaged in certain activities of an inter-provincial nature, such as shipping, railways, airlines, radio and television broadcasting, banking and inter-provincial transportation generally, the federal laws apply. Other employers are covered by provincial legislation.  Many provinces already have laws in place dealing with workplace violence and harassments and assessments.  For example, the Ontario rules have been discussed in our prior posts, here and here.

If you would like to learn more about the proposed regulations, they can be reviewed here.

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Editors

Lawrence E. Ritchie

Partner, Litigation

Alexander Cobb

Partner, Litigation

Shawn Irving

Partner, Litigation

Kevin O’Brien

Partner, Litigation

Lauren Tomasich

Partner, Litigation

Lia Bruschetta

Associate, Litigation