What Bill 132 could mean for you.
If you are not already aware, employers in Ontario are required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to develop policies in relation to harassment and discrimination in their workplaces. In the event of a complaint, the Act requires employers to investigate the complaint to determine if the alleged conduct has occurred. In recent years, the introduction of Bill 168 has led to an increased emphasis on the requirement to address and prevent inappropriate conduct in workplaces, with specific emphasis on workplace harassment and workplace violence.
In late October 2015, the Ontario government tabled Bill 132 which will add to employers' obligations by amending the definition of workplace harassment to include workplace sexual harassment, which is harassment based on an individual's gender, gender identification, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
Currently, the OHSA defines harassment as "a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace which is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome". If Bill 132 is passed, that definition will include the criteria outlined above and businesses with policies that are currently compliant with the OHSA will have to amended their policies to remain in compliance.
Ministry of Labour inspectors have the ability to attend your business and request to see your policies. Therefore, it is important to make sure you are prepared. If you currently do not have the policies required by the OHSA and are looking to achieve legislative compliance, contact TudhopeHR to find out how you can get there.
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