On January 29, 2018, the second reading of Bill C-65 was passed and referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, for further consideration. Bill C-65, which is called an Act to amend the Canada Labour Code ("the Code") (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No.1, would expand obligations to employers regarding allegations of harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence in federally regulated workplaces. These obligations may potentially extend to former employees of the workplace.
As Bill C-65 has passed its second reading, there is the expectation that it will receive Royal Assent. As such, employers should proactively review the proposed amendments as well as their current policies and procedures regarding harassment and violence in the workplace, in order to ensure compliance when the amendments come into force.
Proposed amendments to the Code, Part II, would include, but are not limited to:
- Adding under s. 122(1), harassment and violence means 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.
- Adding to the purpose of this Part of the Code to reflect occurrences of harassment and violence and physical or psychological injuries and illnesses arising out of, linked with or occurring in the course of employment to which this Part applies.
- Employers ensuring that occurrences of harassment and violence are reported, recorded and investigated.
- Employers are to make readily available to employees in printed and electronic form a copy of this part and the regulations under this Part of the Code that pertain to the workplace, a statement of the employer's general policy concerning health and safety at the workplace and any other information related to health and safety prescribed or specified by the Minister.
- Employers are to take measures to prevent and protect against harassment and violence in the work place, respond to occurrences of harassment and violence in the work place and offer support to employees affected by harassment and violence in the work place.
- Employers are to ensure that employees, including those who have supervisory or managerial responsibilities, receive training in the prevention of harassment and violence in the work place and are informed of their rights and obligations under this Part in relation to harassment and violence and undergo training in the prevention of harassment and violence in the work place.
- Obligations set out in the Code under this Part apply to an employer in respect of a former employee in relation to an occurrence of harassment and violence in the work place if the occurrence becomes known to the employer within three months after the day on which the former employee ceases to be employed by the employer.
- The Minister shall investigate the complaint unless it relates to an occurrence of harassment and violence and the Minister is of the opinion that
a) the complaint has been adequately dealt with according to a procedure provided for under this Act, any other Act of Parliament or a collective agreement; or
(b) the matter is trivial, frivolous or vexatious.
If the Minister is of the opinion that the conditions described in paragraphs (a) or (b) are met, the Minister shall inform the employer and the employee in writing, as soon as feasible, that the Minister will not investigate.
- A policy committee may participate in an investigation under sections 128 or 129 that relate to an occurrence of harassment and violence in the workplace.