Introduction

On 29 January 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 comprises an Act to Amend the Canada Labour Code (Harassment and Violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act 2017 – would expand employer obligations with regard to allegations of harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and violence in federally regulated workplaces. These obligations may extend to former employees of the workplace.

As Bill C-65 has passed its second reading, it is expected to 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

Proposed amendments to the Canada Labour Code Part II include the following:

  • Under Section 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.
  • The purpose of Part II includes 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 must ensure that occurrences of harassment and violence are reported, recorded and investigated.
  • Employers must make readily available to employees in printed and electronic form:
    • a copy of Part II 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 in the workplace; and
    • any other information relating to health and safety prescribed or specified by the minister.
  • Employers must take measures to:
    • prevent and protect against harassment and violence in the workplace;
    • respond to occurrences of harassment and violence in the workplace; and
    • offer support to employees affected by harassment and violence in the workplace.
  • Employers must ensure that employees – including those who have supervisory or managerial responsibilities – receive training in the prevention of harassment and violence in the workplace and are informed of their rights and obligations under Part II in relation to harassment and violence.
  • Obligations set out in Part II of the code apply to an employer in respect of a former employee in relation to an occurrence of harassment and violence in the workplace if the occurrence becomes known to the employer within three months after the date on which the former employee ceased to be employed by the employer.
  • The minister will investigate the complaint unless it relates to an occurrence of harassment and violence and the minister opines 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 that relates to an occurrence of harassment and violence in the workplace under Sections 128 or 129.

For further information on this topic please contact Carla Oliver at Fasken by telephone (+1 403 837 0610) or email (coliver@fasken.com). The Fasken website can be accessed at www.fasken.com.

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