Bill 132 – Sexual Violence & Harassment Action Plan

What you need to know

by Brad Bradish, Manager, Injury Risk Management for SRG

On March 8, 2016, Bill 132 – Sexual Violence & Harassment Action Plan received royal assent, requiring employers in Ontario six months to update their polices to meet the requirements of the Act. This Act updated the Occupational Health and Safety Act and will require employers to update their workplace harassment policies.

The Act defines sexual harassment in the workplace and uses the same definition that is in the Ontario Human Rights code. Furthermore, Bill 132 adds more definitions to what constitutes sexual violence and harassment, such as: sexual advances from people who are in a position of power and using a promotion and/or work advancement as a threat. The law also defines what is not considered sexual harassment: “a reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the workplace is not workplace harassment.”  This was added due to significant complaints of workplace harassment against supervisors who were directing employees in their daily job duties.

Bill 132 updates the requirements needed for harassment programs by stipulating that company policy must be updated once a year and must include reviewing past reports, investigations, results and changes that could improve the policy. The law also states that employers must provide alternative options for reporting other than speaking to a supervisor or manager. The employer is required to use an outside consulting company to complete an investigation if they are too small to offer alternative reporting options.

In the previous Violence in the Workplace Bill the only authority the Ministry of Labour (MOL) had under the investigation process was to confirm the employer had followed their own policy. The MOL now has the power to review the findings and order the employer to use an outside source to complete another investigation if needed. However, at this point, the law doesn’t define what is considered an “outside organization”.

Finally, Bill 132 sets out confidentiality requirements for the employer to maintain during and after the investigation. It includes giving both the accused harasser and victim a copy of the results of the investigations, including any corrective actions taken.

All of these changes must be in place by September 8, 2016 to be compliant with the new legislation. For more information about this law, visit the MOL website or contact Brad Bradish, Manager – Injury Risk Management.

 

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