Effective September 8, 2016, Ontario’s new Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Bill 132) creates new duties for all Ontario employers to prevent and investigate sexual harassment in the workplace.
Specifically, the Act expands employers’ duties to:
- Have a workplace harassment policy or program that includes and defines workplace sexual harassment
- Have measures and procedures that allow employees to report incidents of workplace harassment to a person other than their supervisor, if the supervisor is the harasser
- Comply with Occupational Health and Safety inspectors’ requests for an investigation or a report at the employer’s expense
Make sure your policy is compliant by implementing this checklist:
- Review and update your workplace harassment policy to ensure it specifically includes “workplace sexual harassment” in the definition
- Ensure your policy has an outline of the complaint resolution process for a harassment complaint
- Outline how confidentiality will be addressed during an investigation and at the conclusion of the process
- Train all employees on understanding workplace harassment, their rights and responsibilities and any consequences associated with improper behaviour
- Train managers on how to respond to harassment incidents, conduct investigations, and communicate to proper individuals
Remember as an employer even in the absence of a formal complaint, you are responsible for investigating incidents of sexual harassment once you become aware of them.
To read the Act in its entirety, visit: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=3535