Workplace Harassment and Workplace Violence

If you have harassment or violence in the workplace it is important to address these issues properly before they start affecting your employees and business operations. Under Bill 168; Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace), it is the employer’s responsibility to deal with this and ensure staff feel safe and work in a healthy environment.

Bill 168 came into effect on June 15th, 2010, and has amended Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The bill indicates penalties for Ontario employers should they be unsuccessful in their responsibilities and duties in protecting their employees from harassment and violence. Duties include assessing risk of this in the workplace, creating and implementing policies and protocol for investigating cases and responding to complaints, and establishing adequate programs and communication for protecting employees.

Understanding Bill 168: Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace)

“Workplace Harassment” means,

  • 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;
  • Workplace sexual harassment.

“Workplace Violence” means,

  • The exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker;
  • An attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker; or
  • A statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker.

Employers must recognize, investigate, and manage workplace harassment and violence according to the OHSA’s Code of Practice. These compliance standards are set out by the Ministry of Labour.

What is your responsibility as an employer?

Regarding workplace violence and harassment under the OHSAemployers must:

  • Provide a policy in writing;
  • Date and sign the policy;
  • Review these policies annually (at a minimum);
  • Display the policy in a conspicuous place, visible to employees; and
  • Develop and maintain a program to implement the policy and address related situations.

Your workplace policy and harassment program must be prepared with the Joint Health and Safety Committee or Health and Safety Representative, and provide the following information:

  • Your commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace;
  • Definitions of workplace harassment, sexual harassment, and workplace violence;
  • A zero-tolerance for workplace harassment and violence;
  • The program as applicable to all workers;
  • Protocol for reporting and investigating; and
  • A confidentiality statement.

Learn how to prevent workplace harassment and violence:

Don’t wait for workplace harassment and violence to happen. Take proactive steps to ensure you have the right policies in place to protect your employees and business. Call our HR experts today to get answer to questions on Bill 168 or the Occupational Health and Safety Act1-833-247-3650.