In A Flash

Ontario Legislature Passes Significant Changes to OHS Workplace Harassment Laws

March 11, 2016

Ontario Legislature Passes Significant Changes to OHS Workplace Harassment Laws

The Ontario government has now passed Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2015.  As outlined in our previous In A Flash, Bill 132 makes changes to various pieces of existing provincial legislation, most notably the harassment-related provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”).
The changes to the OHSA result in an expansion of the obligations imposed by previous violence and harassment-related amendments to the OHSA, which required employers to implement workplace policies and procedures for violence and harassment in the workplace.  Employers will now be required to amend their workplace violence and harassment policies, to define “workplace sexual harassment” and clarify that “workplace harassment” includes workplace sexual harassment.  The workplace harassment program will have to be developed in consultation with a health and safety representative or committee, as applicable. Further, employers will be required to ensure that investigations into incidents or complaints of workplace harassment meet certain new prescribed requirements, and the MOL will have a new power to order an independent workplace harassment investigation at the employer’s expense.
Bill 132, which received Royal Assent on March 8, 2016, will take immediate effect for a number of acts including the Limitations Act, 2002, while the changes to the OHSA will come into force in September, 2016.  Employers therefore have a six months to bring their workplace policies and practices into compliance.
For more information, and to better understand your obligations as an employer, Mathews Dinsdale will be hosting a complimentary Breakfast Briefing hosted by members of our OHS and Workers’ Compensation Practice Group, “Workplace Sexual Harassment: Managing the Impact of Bill 132”, on April 14th from 8:00am – 9:30am EST.  The session will introduce participants to these new amendments to the workplace harassment provisions of the OHSA, and discuss their implications, as well as practical strategies for dealing with harassment-related issues and complaints under OHS legislation.  For more details, or to register for this briefing in person or via webinar, please visit our website.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.
For more information on new developments in Workplace Law, please refer to our website at:  http://www.mathewsdinsdale.com/news-events/in-a-flash/
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