Both employers and employees regularly ask us questions concerning the nature of the obligations which exist for employers in preventing workplace harassment and violence.
In December 2009, the Government of Ontario passed amendments to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “OHSA”) to address these concerns. The amendments to the OHSA impose positive obligations on employers, including that:
- Employers are required to develop written policies with respect to workplace harassment and workplace violence. These policies must be in writing and posted in a conspicuous place, and reviewed at least annually;
- Employers are required to develop and maintain a program to implement the policy with respect to workplace violence and workplace harassment;
- Employers are required to assess the risks of violence that may arise from the nature of the workplace, the type of work or the conditions of work;
- If the employer becomes aware or ought reasonably to be aware that domestic violence that would likely expose a work to physical injury may occur in the workplace, the employer shall take every precaution reasonable to protect the worker.
Link to OHSA: http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90o01_e.htm
As an employer, you will want to ensure that adequate mechanisms exist to meet your obligations. Alternatively, as an employee, it is important that you know what steps your workplace is obligated to take to meet the legislative requirements.
If you require assistance putting together a sound employer policy, or if you would like to find out whether your employer is meeting its obligations, please feel free to contact me at (613) 270-8600 ext. 223.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This publication is the twelfth installment of our firm’s Legal Matters series, which answers a reader’s question every week. If you have a general legal question that you would like to have addressed please send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.