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Ontario's Union for fairness, equality and respect at work.

 

Health & Safety Representative Rick Young presented on Bill 132 at the Stewards’ Conference, updating activists on many important changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The Bill amends a number of statutes in the Act pertaining to sexual violence, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.Working in consultation with your Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC), your employers are now required to develop and maintain new and updated written workplace harassment policies and procedures.

These are to be reviewed as often as necessary but at least annually.

Employers are to provide workers with “information and instruction that is appropriate for the worker on the contents of the policy and program with respect to “workplace harassment.” These new policies and programs are to be post in a conspicuous place available to the employees.

Employers must review and update their policies on workplace violence and harassment to ensure that the definition of workplace sexual harassment is specifically addressed.

The Act’s previous definition of “workplace harassment” is now expanded to include “workplace sexual harassment”, which is defined as:

  • a. 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
  • b. 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.

Employers must now have precisely defined mechanisms for making a complaint where employees have the ability to report an allegation of workplace harassment to someone other than their supervisor or manager in the event he/she is involved in the complaint.

In addition, Bill 132 outlined outlines new employer responsibilities to make sure that:

  • Your employers program sets out how information obtained during an investigation, including identifying information about any individuals involved, will not be disclosed unless necessary for the purpose of investigating or taking corrective action or otherwise as required by law.
  • An investigation, appropriate in the circumstances, is conducted into incidents and complaints of workplace harassment and sets out how a worker who has allegedly experienced workplace harassment and the alleged harasser, if a worker of the employer, will be informed in writing of the results of investigation and any corrective action taken to be taken as a result of the investigation.

Bill 132 also amends the Act to empower health and safety inspectors by being able to order an employer to conduct an investigation, at the employer’s expense, and is to be conducted by an impartial person who possesses knowledge, experience or qualifications as specified by the inspector and to obtain, also at the employer’s cost, a report from that unbiased person.

Please see a condensed copy of Rick’s presentation at the Stewards’ Conference by clicking here: 

Bill 132 Presentation Slides

Sexual Harassment Resource Card