Preparing for the New Workplace Harassment and Violence Regulations

By: Marisha Tardif

The modernization of the Canada Labour Code is having a significant impact on federally regulated workplaces. In what some have likened to a ‘legislative tsunami’, the Canadian government has introduced a sweeping array of changes, including measures to achieve wage fairness, updates to federal labour standards, and new requirements in occupational health and safety.

While the bulk of these updates entered into force in September 2019, significant changes still lie ahead.

Most employers in the federally regulated space are already familiar with Bill C-65, which develops a framework to protect against harassment and violence in the workplace. Bill C-65 initiated an amendment to the Canada Labour Code, which led to the introduction of the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations released in late June of this year. The publication of the regulatory text finally makes a long-awaited detail official: New anti-harassment and violence provisions are now set to enter into force on January 1st, 2021. The Regulations will apply to all federally regulated workplaces covered under Part II of the Canada Labour Code, including many trucking and logistics employers.

The Regulations in a Nutshell

With this key date just around the corner, it’s worthwhile to go over what these changes mean for the sector.  Boiled down to the basics, the Regulations are about ensuring that federally regulated employers are all working from the same rulebook when it comes to handling workplace harassment and violence. New rules will bring consistency to what employees can expect from their company, as well as new rights, responsibilities, and guarantees. To achieve this, employers will have to take steps to prevent workplace harassment and violence, respond appropriately and in a timely manner if it occurs, and provide support to affected employees. While the new requirements build on provincial frameworks that may already be familiar to many human resources departments, it’s important not to underestimate the nature of the change ahead.

To meet their obligations under the Regulations, employers must:

  • Develop a new Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy;
  • Work jointly with their policy committee, workplace committee, or their health and safety representative in introducing and maintaining key changes to the workplace;
  • Assess the risk of workplace harassment and violence;
  • Provide training to all employees, and participate in training themselves;
  • Respond to all reports of workplace harassment or violence (including complaints made by former employees) and follow specific requirements related to timelines, processes, and procedures;
  • Appoint a designated recipient of workplace harassment and violence complaints;
  • Provide more options for workers to have their issues resolved (and respect every employee’s right to request a formal investigation);
  • Make information available regarding support services for employees affected by workplace harassment or violence; and
  • Maintain records on every incident and report annually to the Ministry of Labour.

The list of requirements above is not comprehensive. Nevertheless, it is clear from this summary that the new Regulations will require major adjustments to policies and procedures for many employers. Given new requirements, it is important for both employers and employees to understand the nature of these changes – including how these new obligations will impact them and their workplace.

Understanding the Issues

Over the past year, Trucking HR Canada has been working to better understand these issues and how they affect our sector.  Through industry surveys and through research on different tools, approaches, and best practices, we learned more about what is happening within our industry.

In working to uncover how, when, and where harassment and violence is experienced in our sector, we also sought to understand what kinds of hurdles employers will face in adapting to the new legislative agenda. We learned that new federal obligations would require a significant adaptation process for many trucking and logistics employers. What’s more, 40% of survey respondents reported that they were unaware or unsure of what harassment and violence resources are available for the trucking industry, indicating that they would welcome further supports.

Resources coming your way

In partnership with Labour Canada, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, and all provincial associations, we have assembled a comprehensive suite of resources, tools, and training materials to help you prepare for reaching compliance with the new Regulations.

Here is a list of what you can expect to see in time for the January 2021 timeline:

  • Three bilingual online training modules focused on rights and responsibilities under the Regulations (for employers, for employees, and for incident response);
  • An employer’s guide to harassment and violence prevention, response, and support;
  • A workplace policy template with compliance and best practice tips;
  • An employer’s checklist to the workplace policy under the Regulations
  • A risk assessment template;
  • An employer’s checklist for the risk assessment process;
  • Legal ‘how-to’ guides for employers and employees; and
  • Informative webinars.

 

Once the COVID-19 situation is stabilized, employers can also expect updates on in-person training options. As a turbulent 2020 winds to a close, make sure to check out our website for more details, and stay tuned as we bring more information your way.