Focus Alert readers will recall that back in June, the Federal Government published the Work Place Harassment and Prevention Regulations (the “Regulations”), a new standalone regulation made under the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) which supports the implementation of the recent and extensive changes made to the work place harassment and violence prevention regime applicable to many federally regulated employers as a result of the passage of Bill C-65.
At the time of the initial publication of the Regulations, its changes were not actually scheduled to come into effect for another six months. However, that deadline is now rapidly approaching, being January 1, 2021. In an effort to further assist with implementation of the requirements of the Regulations in the coming weeks, the Labour Program has recently published one of its Interpretations, Policies and Guidelines documents (or “IPG”) addressing some of the main questions related to the recent amendments to the federal work place harassment and violence prevention framework.
In particular, the IPG provides an overview of employers’ responsibilities with respect to work place harassment and violence prevention as mandated under the amended Code and the Regulations, and provides practical scenarios and guidance for the proper implementation of those obligations, including as it relates to actual occurrences of work place harassment and violence. For example, with respect to the Regulations specifically, the issues that the IPG addresses include but are not limited to:
- The scope of an “occurrence” of harassment or violence as defined under the Code and Regulations, including whether it can take place outside of an employer provided work place, and whether it can include an incident of family or domestic violence;
- The types of risk factors (both internal and external) that can contribute to incidences of work place harassment and violence and examples of preventative measures that can mitigate said risk;
- How to deal with a disagreement between the employer and the policy committee, the work place committee or the health and safety representative on a matter that generally requires them to act jointly;
- Particulars of the work place assessment processes (both initial and review), including their purpose and the types of external risk factors that employers, as well as the applicable partner, must consider when conducting such an assessment;
- The types of occurrence(s) or threats of occurrence(s) that should be taken into consideration in the development of emergency procedures for the work place;
- The conduct of the joint review and update of the work place assessment in different scenarios, including where an occurrence of work place harassment or violence has not been resolved but the principal party has nonetheless chosen to put an end to the resolution process, and where the principal party has not chosen to put an end to the resolution process but the responding party is a third party;
- How a former employee can substantiate their claim that they qualify for the extension to the 3-month post-employment period where requested because they were unable to notify their employer of an occurrence of work place harassment and violence due to trauma incurred as a result of the occurrence or a health condition;
- What constitutes a “complaint” (i.e., where an employer allegedly fails to fulfill their duties under the new provisions of the Code and its Regulations), as well as details of the Internal Complaint Resolution Process to be followed in cases of such a complaint;
- The difference between a “designated recipient” as noted at subparagraph 10(2)(e)(i) of the Regulations and a “person who is designated” as noted at paragraph 10(2)(k) of the Regulations, and whether or not both roles can be filled by the same individual;
- Details of the requirements of the various available occurrence resolution methods, including negotiated resolution and investigation, and of when such a resolution process will be deemed to be complete; and
- Particulars of mandatory work place harassment and violence training that employers must implement and of the other support services that they must provide information to employees about.
In addition to providing extensive practical guidance on the above issues and more related to the Regulations, the IPG also addresses certain issues arising as a result of the recent amendments to the Code through Bill C-65.
In Our View
Employers who are subject to the new legislative framework applicable to work place harassment and violence prevention in federally-regulated work places and who have questions about the new regime should familiarize themselves with the newly-released IPG well before January 1, 2021 so as to ensure that they are prepared to act appropriately immediately upon the coming into force of the Regulations.
For more information on your rights as an employer dealing with the implementation of this work place harassment and violence prevention legislation, please contact Kecia Podetz at 613-940-2752, Colleen Dunlop at 613-940-2734, Steven Williams at 613-940-2737, Jacques A. Emond at 613-940-2730 or Lauren Jamieson at 613-563-7660 ext. 236.