Prevent Sexual Violence and Harassment in the Workplace
In 2015, the Ontario government introduced Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, which amends, among other statutes, the Occupational Health and Safety Act ("OHSA"). It follows upon the recent changes to OHSA brought in by Bill 168, which set out how harassment is to be dealt with as a health and safety issue in the workplace.
Bill 132's amendments to OHSA expand the meaning of workplace harassment under OHSA to include workplace sexual harassment. The definition of sexual harassment in Bill 132 mirrors that of the Ontario Human Rights Code:
engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome; or
making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.
OHSA re-affirms that reasonable actions taken by an employer or supervisor to manage and direct workers or the workplace do not constitute workplace harassment.
Section 32.06(2) of OHSA, which addresses the employer’s requirement to implement a workplace harassment policy, has been broadened to incorporate an obligation to:
In addition, Bill 132 outlined outlines new employer responsibilities to make sure that:
Bill 132 explicitly states that the outcome of an investigation and any report produced for the investigation is not a report that must, pursuant to OHSA section 25(2), be supplied to a joint health and safety committee, a worker health and safety representative or other workers.
Bill 132 amends OHSA to empower health and safety inspectors to require an employer to conduct an investigation, at the employer’s expense, by an unbiased party and to obtain, also at the employer’s cost, a report from that unbiased person.
Be ahead of the Curve! Call us today so we can find a custom solution for your Bill 132 needs. We can revise your policy, provide training to your workers or add HR Proactive’s video DVD kit to your library of training materials. We also have a Prevent Sexual Violence and Harassment e-Learning program that you can purchase logins and passwords or buy outright in a SCORM package. Want to add to your professional development and learn what you need to know to implement Bill 132? Then sign up for our Train-the-Trainer Program and leave with everything you need to roll-out Bill 132 in the workplace.