Government launches consultation on workplace harassment, violence bill

With a bill before parliament aiming to amend the Canada Labour Code as it pertains to harassment and violence in federally regulated workplaces, the government is inviting Canadians to weigh in on its proposed regulatory framework.

The proposal provides an outline of key elements of a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy, including: timeframes; confidentiality; how to respond to third-party incidents, such as if an employee is harassed by a client; what qualifications are necessary for those investigating such incidents; the employer’s obligation to implement corrective measures; the role of a workplace committee; and what support should be provided to workers who experience harassment and violence.

Read: Federal government introduces bill to address workplace harassment, violence

“Not only have I been mandated by Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure that federally regulated workplaces are free from harassment and sexual violence, but this is also important to me, personally,” said Patty Hajdu, minister of employment, workforce development and labour, in a press release.

“Today, I’m proud to take another step in achieving this goal. As we move forward with this important initiative, it’s essential that we get it right. That’s why I’m asking all Canadians to participate in this consultation – the feedback we gather will be invaluable in implementing Canada’s new legislation.”

Alongside the online consultation, which will be open until Oct. 5, 2018, the government is hosting a series of roundtables with key industry stakeholders. It will also publish the highlighted findings.

Read: 60% of Canadians report experiencing workplace harassment: survey

The bill itself would require employers to prevent incidents of harassment and violence, respond effectively to these incidents if and when they do occur and support victims and affected employees.

It defines harassment and violence as “any action, conduct or comment, including of a sexual nature, that can reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee, including any prescribed action, conduct or comment,” noted the release.