Bill C-65 & Victim Support
The federal government confirmed that its new anti-harassment and anti-violence legislation, Bill C-65, will be taking effect on January 1st, 2021. The legislation will amend the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) which applies to federally regulated employees across Canada, in areas such as banking, aviation, and the public service. The new law, matching existing legislation for provincially regulated employers, has three main goals: preventing incidents of harassment and violence from occurring in the workplace, responding effectively to such workplace incidents when they do occur and in supporting victims, survivors and employers in the process.
Some highlights of the new rules include:
- Harassment and violence have been defined 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.”
- Employers have broadened duties: there is now a positive duty to take certain measures to prevent and protect against workplace violence and workplace harassment. this means federally regulated employers must ensure that all employees receive:
- training in the prevention of workplace harassment and violence, and
- information on the employer’s general policy regarding occupational health and safety
- The mandatory internal complaint resolution process has expanded to place a greater emphasis on workplace harassment and violence. There is now added flexibility for employees to report workplace harassment and violence to the employer, either to their supervisor or the designated person in the policy.
- There have been changes dealing with workplace health and safety committees and their representatives. One important change relates to health and safety committees no longer being able to participate in an investigation that relates to occurrences of both workplace harassment and violence.
- The Federal Government will now be required to publish an annual report that contains statistical data on harassment and violence in federally regulated workplaces, having collected the data from employers.
Takeaways for Federally Regulated Employers
The new Bill C-65 has created positive obligations on federally regulated employers to put formal processes in place for the protection of employees related to workplace harassment and violence. If an employer does not already have a written policy on workplace harassment and violence, it is now mandatory; existing policies and onboarding materials should be updated to include the newest changes to the law. Occupational health and safety obligations have a broadened scope, particularly emphasizing violence and harassment prevention in the workplace.
If workplace policies in the operation have not been reviewed in some time, now is an opportune time to review the policies and update employees as to the changes. Additional training on the new policies, even as a short refresher, would help to meet the new legal obligations on employers.
Furthermore, employers must treat such complaints seriously given the obligation to investigate complaints and even possible occurrences in the workplace. Should an investigation highlight that such complaints are with merit; employers must record these complaints and report them annually to the federal government.
Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about the above and how it impacts your business.
This article is provided for general information purposes and should not be considered a legal opinion. Clients are advised to obtain legal advice based on their specific situations.