Changes to the Canada Labour Code Coming Into Effect, January, 2021

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This past June, the Federal Government announced that starting January 1, 2021, new regulations will come into effect to protect employees in federally regulated workplaces from harassment and violence in the workplace.

The changes come as part of Bill C-65 which was passed in late 2019.

“We’re taking an important step forward to ensure that federally regulated workplaces—including the federally regulated private sector, the federal public service and parliamentary workplaces—are free from harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence,” said Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour in a statement on June 24, 2020. “Every worker deserves a safe workplace, and by working together, we can make that a reality.”

The changes are designed to ensure every Canadian is working in a healthy, respectful and safe work environment.

“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that all federally regulated workplaces, including the public service, are free from harassment and violence of any kind,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, President of the Treasury Board of Canada in a statement on June 24, 2020. “The new Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations announced today will thereby enable employees and employers to more readily know their rights and duties and will strengthen the measures to prevent and address all forms of misconduct in the workplace.”

The changes that will come into effect on January 1, 2010 fall under five main pillars. Below is a summary of the changes.

1. Protection

Currently under the Canada Labour Code, two different parts deal with workplace violence and sexual harassment:

  • Workplace violence as an occupational health and safety issue under Part II of the Code; and
  • Sexual harassment as a labour standard issue under Part III of the Code.

Part III of the Code does not protect employees in the federally regulated public sector—the federal public service or parliamentary employees.

Starting January 1, 2021, Part II of the Canada Labour Code (the Code) treats workplace violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, as occupational health and safety issues.

Part II protects employees and former employees in the federally regulated private and public sectors. 

2. Policies, Reporting Requirements & Review

Currently under the Canada Labour Code, employers have to work together with their policy committee and workplace committee or health and safety representatives to develop various policies to prevent workplace harassment and violence.

Employers have to report cases of workplace violence that resulted in injury and investigate cases of sexual harassment or report them to the Labour Program.

The Minister of Labour is not required to review the sections of the Code related to harassment and violence on a regular basis.

Starting January 1, 2021, employers must work together with their policy committee and workplace committee or health and safety representatives to develop one policy that addresses both harassment  and violence.

Employers must investigate, record and report all cases of harassment and violence to the Labour Program each year.

The Minister of Labour must review the provisions of Part II of the Code related to harassment and violence every five years.

3. Training

Currently under the Canada Labour Code, employees do not have to take workplace harassment and violence prevention training.

Starting January 1, 2021, employers must provide mandatory training on harassment and violence prevention to their employees.

4. Support

Currently under the Canada Labour Code, employers do not have to support employees who experience workplace harassment or violence.

Starting January 1, 2021, employers must make available to employees information about the support services in their geographical area. They must also describe the support measures available to employees in their workplace harassment and violence prevention policy.

5. Privacy

Currently under the Canada Labour Code, if the employer cannot resolve an incident during the resolution process, they have to give the appointed investigator any relevant information they can legally disclose and that would not reveal the identity of those involved without their consent.

Starting January 1, 2021, to encourage employees to come forward, employers must put in place strong privacy protections.

Employers must describe in their workplace harassment and violence prevention policy how they will protect the privacy of the persons involved in:

  • An occurrence, or
  • The resolution process for an occurrence.

If an investigator conducts an investigation, the final report must not reveal the identity of persons involved in:

  • An occurrence, or
  • The resolution process for an occurrence (such as the complainant and the individual alleged, witnesses and any other persons).

If you are interested in writing an article on how these changes will impact businesses from a legal point of view, PeopleTalk would like to connect with you about possibly doing a follow up article to this one. Email us with your thoughts and credentials to speak on matters related to the Labour Code of Canada.

*Info from this document was taken from Workplace Harassment And Violence What Is New Under The Legislation.

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