Employers required to have new and updated workplace harassment policies, procedures and training in place by September 8, 2016.

As we wrote about late last year, the Government of Ontario has moved forward with its plan to address sexual violence and harassment. Last week, Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2015, received Royal Assent.

While Bill 132 amends various legislation, employers should pay particular attention to the changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act which aim to bolster employee protection from workplace harassment. These changes impose a September 8, 2016 deadline on employers that requires them to address the following:

  • Review (and if necessary, amend) their workplace harassment policy to ensure it includes workplace sexual harassment;
  • Investigate incidents and complaints of workplace harassment;
  • Inform the parties to a workplace harassment complaint of the results of the investigation and any corrective action that will occur; and
  • Involve the Joint Health and Safety Committee in developing written programs and procedures, regarding workplace harassment, which address:
    • the reporting of incidents;
    • the investigation process;
    • how the investigation information will be kept confidential,except for the purposes of taking corrective action or required by law;
    • training under the programs and procedures; and
    • an annual review of the programs and procedures.

While the deadline for employers to act may be six months away, the post-Labour Day deadline may require employers to act as soon as possible to account for summer vacations.