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Workplace Saftey - Email Alert

Significant Changes to Workplace Harassment Law Effective September 8th, 2016

Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016

Readers will recall in our November 2015 Newsletter that the Ontario Government has amended the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to include sexual violence and harassment known as Bill 132.

We can now inform you that Bill 132 will come into effect on September 8th, 2016.

Here is what is changing.

Currently under section 1(1) of the OHSA, "workplace harassment" is defined as engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome.
On September 8th, 2016 the above section will remain the same, but will add a sub-section that states, "workplace harassment" also mean "workplace sexual harassment" which means the following:

  • 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 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.

By September 8th, 2016 employers will need to review and update their existing workplace harassment safety policy and related procedures to:

  • Include the definition of workplace sexual harassment.
  • Include what measures and procedures will be taken for workers when reporting incidents of workplace harassment to a person other than the employer or supervisor, if the employer or supervisor is the alleged harasser.
  • Identify how information collected about an incident or complaint of workplace harassment, including identifying information about any individuals involved will be kept confidential and will not be disclosed unless required by law to do so.
  • Include procedures to notify the harasser and harassee (in writing) of the results of the investigation and any corrective action required.
  • Involve the JHSC or safety representation (if any) in developing related procedures relating to workplace sexual harassment.
  • Include how the workplace sexual harassment policy will be communicated to workers and what related training will be conducted for workers.

If you are a general contractor, one way of notifying contractors of the amended policy would be to include the policy and procedures during site orientation.

Ensure that the revised standard includes wording that this safety standard will be reviewed at least annually for continuous improvement and requirements under the section 25 (2) (j) of the OHSA.

For further information please contact Greg Sathmary at (613) 260-0600.

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