New workplace harassment and violence prevention regulations: Questions and answers

What is Bill C-65 (42-1)?

Bill C-65 (42-1) came into force on January 1, 2021 and is an Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (CLC) and introduced a number of amendments to strengthen the existing framework for harassment and violence prevention. This includes sexual harassment and sexual violence, in federally regulated industries and workplaces.

What are the key changes?

The Regulations streamline and consolidate harassment and violence provisions under Part II (Occupational Health and Safety) of the Canada Labour Code. The Regulations strengthen and define prevention, resolution and support mechanisms to effectively manage occurrences of harassment and violence in the workplace.

What is the new definition of harassment?

The Canada Labour Code (subsection 122(1)) defines harassment and violence as “any action, conduct or comment, including of a sexual nature, that can reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee, including any prescribed action, conduct or comment”.

The definitions for harassment and violence have been updated in the regulations and include but are not limited to the Harassment and Violence in the Workplace Negative Behaviours Continuum. Harassment is not consensual workplace banter, reasonable management action, and every workplace disagreement.

Who does this Regulation apply to?

The new Regulations apply to all Department of National Defence (DND) Public Service employees and Canadian Armed Forces members (CAF members) involved in an occurrence with a DND employee, or any person granted access to the workplace. When an occurrence only involves members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the following mechanisms will apply:

It applies any place where an employee is engaged in work or work relationships for the employer as per section 122(1) of CLC, including all bases and wings. This may include, but is not limited to, the workplace or any location or event related to work including:

  1. working remotely including from home;
  2. when using communication technologies with a connection to the workplace or employment conditions;
  3. while on travel status;
  4. at DND sponsored training activities/information sessions;
  5. at a conference where attendance is sponsored by DND; and
  6. at DND sanctioned events, including social events.

As a public service employee, what does this mean for me?

These Regulations simplify the process for employees who experience or witness harassment and violence in the workplace to raise it. By providing easier ways to report it; informal means to resolve it and a streamlined process to investigate it, DND will have better means to prevent it from recurring.

The previous legal framework was fragmented and did not adequately address occurrences of sexual harassment and sexual violence. In response to these issues, the Government of Canada committed to taking action to ensure that federal work places are free from harassment and violence. The new Regulations now consolidate harassment and violence provisions (including sexual harassment and sexual violence) under Part II (Occupational Health and Safety) of the Canada Labour Code paving the way for a more streamlined approach to prevention, response and support. The new Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Centre of Expertise (WHVP CoE) within Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources – Civilian) (ADM HR-Civ) also includes a Designated Recipient Unit for employees with concerns about reporting an occurrence to their supervisor/manager.

The employee is also provided more options in reaching a resolution. They can choose whether to resolve the claim through an informal resolution process or through a third-party investigator. The employee can change which recourse option they pursue at any time and/or processes can run in parallel.

As a supervisor/manager, what does this mean for me?

Supervisors/Managers are the first line of defence in preventing harassment and violence in the workplace. They are expected to lead by example, support their employees and exemplify the values and ethics of the Defence Team.

A supervisor’s/manager’s role is ensuring a safe and healthy workplace for all employees which includes addressing any occurrence of harassment and violence as early as possible.  An employee or witness who experiences workplace harassment and violence may choose to report it verbally or in writing to their supervisor/manager or the designated recipient.

As a supervisor/manager, if you receive a Notice of Occurrence (NoO), you must conduct an initial review ensuring all information provided is complete and assess the urgency of the resolution, including any immediate actions required to efficiently address risks to the health and safety of the workplace and to protect those involved. Inform the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention (WHVP) Centre of Expertise within seven calendar days. The infographic, Supervisors/Managers: Your Role in Responding to Harassment and Violence in the Workplace summarizes the process.

How do I report harassment and violence?

An employee or witness who experiences harassment and violence in the workplace should report it as soon as possible. Please refer to the Reporting Harassment and Violence in the Workplace Process for more information:

I have witnessed harassment and violence in the workplace. Can I report it?

Yes. Harassment and violence prevention is everyone’s responsibility. If you witness an occurrence, you can submit a Notice of Occurrence by following the Reporting Harassment and Violence in the Workplace Process.

What happens once I submit a Notice of Occurrence?

Once a Notice of Occurrence is received by a manager/supervisor or a Designated Recipient, you should receive an acknowledgement of receipt within seven calendar days. Refer to the Reporting Harassment and Violence in the Workplace Process Infographic for more information.

Can I submit a Notice of Occurrence anonymously?

Yes. Employees and witnesses may choose to provide an anonymous notice of occurrence. In this case a resolution may be difficult to achieve based on the information provided. The occurrence will, however, be forwarded to the local Workplace Health and Safety Committee who will jointly review, and if necessary, update the workplace harassment and violence assessment and determine if any additional preventative measures are required.

What support is available to public service employees who are either a principal party, witness or responding party in a workplace harassment and violence occurrence?

Support services are available to all parties involved in the occurrence process, including the responding party. A detailed list of these services can be found on the Other support services and resources section of the main web page.

What is the process for cases reported prior to January 1st 2021?

A harassment complaint initiated prior to January 1, 2021 falls under the previous policy (accessible only on the National Defence network) outlined in the Harassment Prevention and Resolution Instructions (see section 4.2), as well as the Prevention of Violence in the Workplace Policy (accessible only on the National Defence network).

Accordingly, the complaint would be channelled through the Responsible Officer, or the next Chain of Command, should the Responsible Officer be named in the complaint.

For more information or support with this process, please contact Labour Relations (accessible only on the National Defence network).

Which policy applies to an incident of harassment and violence in the workplace between a CAF member and a public service employee?

Occurrences reported after 1 January 2021, involving a CAF member and a DND Public Service employee, will fall under the new Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention policy.

When an occurrence only involves members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the following apply:

What support is provided to the Responding Party?

The new regulations instil a preventative approach towards harassment and violence occurrences. The regulations support all parties involved in an occurrence and prevent adversarial or punitive measures.

The responding party is entitled to support throughout the process similar to that of the principal party, as applicable. During the resolution process you have the right to be represented or accompanied by a colleague, friend or family member for support. Meanwhile, additional guidance and tools are being developed to explain the rights and available support to all parties involved in an occurrence. DND also offers support and assistance to all employees and their family members who are affected by workplace harassment and violence in the workplace through the confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Is the new mandatory Workplace Harassment and Violent Prevention training applicable to CAF members?

All CAF members must complete the required training, even those who do not supervise Public Service employees, at their earliest convenience.

CAF members now have access to learning products and services offered through the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS). CSPS is creating new accounts for all CAF members, and will send updates by email once accounts are created. If an email is not registered in monitor mass, CSPS will work to enable registration via service number. For any questions about registering, please contact CAF.RegistrationRequiredTraining@forces.gc.ca.

I have questions about these new regulations. Who can I contact?

If you have any questions about the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations, please visit the following web page: New workplace harassment and violence prevention regulations for Defence Team Public Service Employees, call HR Connect RH at 1-833-RHR-MDND (1-833-747-6363) or email the WHVP Centre of Expertise at WHVPCoE-PHVCE@forces.gc.ca.

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