Workplace Sexual Harassment - Is Your Workplace Compliant with the New Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act?




Workplace Sexual Harassment - Is Your Workplace Compliant with the

New Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act?

Employers now have a greater duty to protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace due to Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016 receiving Royal Assent on March 8, 2016. This Act has made notable changes to amend various statutes with respect to sexual violence, sexual harassment, domestic violence and related matters, including but not limited to: the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the Limitations Act, 2002.

By September 8, 2016, Employers will be obligated to amend their workplace violence and harassment policies to: include workplace sexual harassment in the Workplace Harassment definition and define Workplace Sexual Harassment. Furthermore, Employers shall, in consultation with the committee or a health and safety representative, if any, develop and maintain a written program to implement the policy with respect to the amended workplace harassment policy and program.

Additionally, once the amendments to the Act come into force, a Ministry of Labour inspector is able to order an Employer to investigate incidents and complaints of workplace harassment, at the expense of the Employer. The Employer will be required to engage an investigator that is: an impartial person, possessing such knowledge, experience or qualifications as are specified by the inspector, and to obtain a written report by that person.

We would suggest the following steps to ensure your organization is compliant with the new Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act:

  1. Review Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016; and
  2. In consultation with the committee or a health and safety representative, revise the organization’s existing health and safety policies, procedures and program to reflect the new requirements and ensure compliance by no later than September 8, 2016.

If you would like to discuss your organization’s obligations with respect to the Workplace Sexual Harassment amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and/or would like assistance in revising your current policy and procedures, please contact us.