Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations – What We Heard

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Introduction

Over the past nine months the Labour Program has been engaging Canadians regarding the new harassment and violence regulations that will support the coming into force of Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act (PESRA) and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 (the Act). Consultations were undertaken in three phases.

The initial phase of the consultations included round tables convened across the country with federally regulated employers, employee representatives, subject matter experts and organizations supporting those populations known to experience higher incidents of harassment and violence.  Phase one helped to: clarify the qualifications of individuals undertaking workplace harassment and violence investigations; highlight the essential elements of an investigation report; make apparent that discipline is the employer’s domain so the investigator should not make recommendations regarding discipline; and inform the timelines for the resolution process.

Phase two was a series of WebEx meetings that targeted sectors not represented at the round tables and served as an opportunity for those who attended the round tables to appreciate how their input contributed to the revisions of the proposed harassment and violence regulations. Key input from the WebExs included: the recommendation to qualify the terms ‘mediators’ and ‘mediation’ to broader language so that Elders and spiritual leaders could see themselves in the redefined terms and be considered as mediators; advice on timelines for the resolution process; and clarification on the concept of co-development.

The final and third phase of the consultation was online, with Canadians having the opportunity to review the Labour Program’s consultation paper titled Proposed Regulatory Framework: Harassment and Violence and complete a related survey and/or submit written responses.

The results of all three phases of the consultations inform the drafting of the harassment and violence prevention regulations.

The Labour Program greatly appreciates all the feedback received throughout the consultation process.

About this report

The Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations – What We Heard report provides the highlights of the online survey completed by 1018 respondents.  The responses, as outlined below, have been grouped into seven themes.

Demographics

Who responded to the survey?

The majority of respondents who completed the survey were individuals (Figure 1), of which approximately 50% work in a federally regulated industry (Figure 2). Respondents were from all across Canada, with most responses coming from the four largest provinces (Figure 3).

Demographics Figure 1: Survey respondents by type
Demographics Figure 1: Survey respondents by type
Text description
Response Number %
Individual 774 75%
Union 91 9%
Employer 76 7%
Other 49 5%
Prefer not to answer 39 4%
Grand total 1029 100%
Demographics Figure 2: Whether survey respondents work in a federally regulated industry
Demographics Figure 2:  Whether survey respondents work in a federally regulated industry
Text description
Response Number of respondents %
Yes 535 52%
No 363 35%
Do not know 74 7%
Prefer not to answer 57 6%
Total 1029 100%
Demographics Figure 3: Survey respondents by location
Demographics Figure 3: Survey respondents by location
Text description
Response Number of respondents %
Ontario 390 38%
Quebec 218 21%
Other Provinces and Territories 173 17%
Alberta 133 13%
British Columbia 81 8%
Prefer not to answer 34 3%
Grand Total 1029 100%

Timelines

To ensure that federally regulated employers adequately respond to complaints of workplace harassment and violence, the amended regulations will set specific timeframes for the resolution process. We asked about timelines of various parts of the resolution process.

This is what you told us:

86% of respondents agreed with the statement: Employers will be required to acknowledge receipt of a notification of harassment and violence that occurred in their workplace as soon as possible, but no later than five calendar days.

Timelines Figure 1: Survey responses to timeframe for employer to acknowledge receipt of a notification of harassment and violence that occurred in their workplace.
Timelines Figure 1: Survey responses to timeframe for employer to acknowledge receipt of a notification of harassment and violence that occurred in their workplace.
Text description
Response Number of respondents
Agree to five calendar days 883
Disagree - Less than five calendar days 59
Disagree - More than five calendar days 49
Prefer not to answer 38
Grand Total 1029

85% agree with the statement: “the employer will be obligated to provide monthly updates on the status of the resolution process to the complainant and the respondent.”

Timelines Figure 2: Survey responses to timeframe for employer to provide monthly updates on the status of the resolution process to the complainant and the respondent acknowledge.
Timelines Figure 2: Survey responses to timeframe for employer to provide monthly updates on the status of the resolution process to the complainant and the respondent acknowledge.
Text description
Response Number of respondents %
Agree to monthly updates 946 85%
Disagree - Less than monthly 74 10%
Disagree - More than monthly 33
Prefer not to answer 51 5%
Grand Total 1029 100%

If an incident is not resolved through early or informal resolution, a investigator will be appointed to conduct a formal investigation into an incident of workplace harassment and violence. They must be mutually agreed to, impartial, and have the necessary knowledge, training and experience to conduct the investigation.

80% of respondents agreed that parties have two months to agree on a investigator or the Labour Program will appoint one.

Timelines Figure 3: Survey responses to timeframe for parties to agree on a investigator, before the Labour Program appoints one.
Timelines Figure 3: Survey responses to timeframe for parties to agree on a investigator, before the Labour Program appoints one.
Text description
Response Number of responses %
Agree to two months 872 80%
Disagree - Less than two months 53 15%
Disagree - More than two months 106
Prefer not to answer 51 5%
Grand Total 1029 100%

Should an investigation be completed by a investigator, their report will include recommendations that outline the development and implementation of effective controls to eliminate or minimize harassment and violence in the workplace.

78% of respondents agreed with the statement: “When the investigator’s report is submitted, the amended regulations will require the employer to implement all appropriate recommendations, as determined by the workplace committee, as soon as possible but no later than six months.”

Timelines Figure 4: Survey responses to timeframe for employer to implement all appropriate recommendations from the investigator’s report, with ‘appropriate’ determined by the workplace committee.
Timelines Figure 4: Survey responses to timeframe for employer to implement all appropriate recommendations from the investigator’s report, with ‘appropriate’ determined by the workplace committee.
Text description
Response Number of respondants %
Agree to six months 857 78%
Disagree - Less than six months 65 17%
Disagree - More than six months 115
Prefer not to answer 57 5%
Grand Total 1029 100%

Training

The regulations will require federally regulated employers to provide training to everyone in the workplace, including the employer, employee representatives, supervisors and managers.

We proposed various elements that training would be required to cover. Below is the percentage of respondents that thought a particular element should be covered in training.

Training Figure 1: Survey respondents’ agreement with possible required training elements
Training Figure 1: Survey respondents’ agreement with possible required training elements
Text description
Response Number of respondants %
What constitutes harassment and violence and how to recognize, minimize and prevent it 899 92%
How to respond appropriately to incidents or complaints,
particularly when it includes sexual harassment and sexual violence
829 85%
Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy 791 81%
Available support services and resources 783 80%
How to identify, respond to and mitigate third party harassment and violence 761 78%
Workplace emergency response process 744 76%
Overview of the harassment and violence regulations 741 76%
Crisis prevention, personal safety and de-escalation techniques 729 75%
Overview of the Canadian Human Rights Act 630 64%
How to identify, respond to and mitigate incidents of family violence 629 64%
Psychological first aid 616 63%
Overview of the Canada Labour Code 595 61%
Other 78 8%
Prefer not to answer 10 1%
Grand Total 8835 978

In the survey, we stated that training on workplace violence prevention currently must occur every three years. We then asked: “Based on your current federally regulated work environment, what is an appropriate frequency for training?”

In response, 54% of respondents thought harassment and violence prevention training should occur annually.

Training Figure 2: Survey responses to desired frequency for harassment and violence prevention training
Training Figure 2: Survey responses to desired frequency for harassment and violence prevention training
Text description
Response Number of responses
Annually 532
As required (following specific incident) 76
Every three years 235
Prefer not to answer 83
Other 103
Grand Total 1029

Competent person

The amended regulations will stipulate the elements that need to be included in a investigator’s report as a result of an investigation of workplace harassment and violence.

The following chart shows respondents’ support for whether each specific element should be mandatory in a Competent person’s report.

Competent person Figure 1: Survey respondents’ agreement with possible required elements in a Competent person’s report
Investigator Figure 1: Survey respondents’ agreement with possible required elements in a investigator’s report
Text description
Response Number of respondants %
Recommendations to the employer to eliminate or minimize
harassment and violence in the workplace
901 90%
Analysis and findings 900 90%
Details of the incident 842 84%
Outline the methodology used for investigation 778 78%
Whether or not the employer should consider disciplinary action 634 63%
The form of disciplinary actions the employer should take 546 55%
Other 143 14%
Prefer not to answer 10 1%
Grand Total 4754 100%

Support

The amended regulations will emphasize support to all parties involved in an incident of harassment and violence in the workplace (complainant, respondent, and witnesses). We asked a series of questions of which support options should be made available and who should provide them?

87% of respondents agreed that physical support to the complainant should be made available, including medical care if necessary, and 41% of respondents indicated that the employer was in the best position to provide the necessary physical support.

Support Figure 1: Survey responses to whether physical support should be made available to the complainant
Support Figure 1: Survey responses to whether physical support should be made available to the complainant
Text description
Response Number of responses %
Agree 891 87%
Disagree 67 7%
Prefer not to answer 71 7%
Grand Total 1029 100%
Support Figure 2: Survey responses to who should provide physical support to the complainant.
Support Figure 2: Survey responses to who should provide physical support to the complainant.
Text description
Response Number of responses %
Employer 421 41%
Not answered 191 19%
Provinces or territories 139 14%
Non-profit organizations 120 12%
Other 94 9%
Municipalities 35 3%
Complainant or respondent 29 3%
Grand Total 1029 100%

In relation to psychological support, 85% of respondents agree that a list of local psychological support resources should be made available to all parties, with 63% indicating that the employer make this service available.

Support Figure 3: Survey responses to whether a list of local psychological support resources should be made available to all parties
Support Figure 3: Survey responses to whether a list of local psychological support resources should be made available to all parties
Text description
Response Number of responses %
Agree 870 85%
Disagree 88 9%
Prefer not to answer 71 7%
Grand Total 1029 100%
Support Figure 4: Survey responses to who should make available to all parties a list of local psychological support resources.
Support Figure 4: Survey responses to who should make available to all parties a list of local psychological support resources.
Text description
Response Number of responses %
Employer 650 63%
Not answered 199 19%
Other 50 5%
Complainant or respondent 50 5%
Non-profit organizations 39 4%
Provinces or territories 34 3%
Municipalities 7 1%
Grand Total 1029 100%

80% of respondents agree adjustments to the workplace environment to reduce the potential for continued harassment and violence should be made available to all parties.

42% of the respondents felt that the employer should provide the required accommodation.

Support Figure 5: Survey responses to whether environmental accommodations should be made available to all parties.
Support Figure 5: Survey responses to whether environmental accommodations should be made available to all parties.
Text description
Response Number of responses
Agree 820
Disagree 110
Prefer not to answer 99
Grand Total 1029
Support Figure 6: Survey responses to who should provide environmental accommodations to all parties.
Support Figure 6: Survey responses to who should provide environmental accommodations to all parties.
Text description
Response Number of responses %
Employer 434 42%
Not answered 248 24%
Non-profit organizations 127 12%
Provinces or territories 79 8%
Other 70 7%
Complainant or respondent 38 4%
Municipalities 33 3%
Grand Total 1029 100%

Regarding social support, 83% of respondents agree that social support for the complainant and witnesses, from peers to supervisors (if consent from the parties is obtained), should be made available, with 40% indicating that the employer make these services available.

Support Figure 7: Survey responses to whether social support should be made available to the complainant and witnesses.
Support Figure 7: Survey responses to whether social support should be made available to the complainant and witnesses.
Text description
Response Number of responses
Agree 856
Disagree 60
Prefer not to answer 113
Grand Total 1029
Support Figure 8: Survey responses to who should make available social support to the complainant and witnesses
Support Figure 8: Survey responses to who should make available social support to the complainant and witnesses
Text description
Response Number of responses %
Employer 410 40%
Provinces or territories 224 22%
Not answered 219 21%
Non-profit organizations 67 7%
Other 63 6%
Municipalities 24 2%
Complainant or respondent 22 2%
Grand Total 1029 100%

Policies and reporting

To ensure that federally regulated workplaces are equipped with clear and meaningful workplace harassment and violence prevention policies, the regulations will set out required elements that the policies will need to address.

We proposed various elements for possible inclusion in the prevention policies. For each element, the chart below shows the percentage of respondents who thought an element should be mandatory.

Policies and Reporting Figure 1: Survey respondents’ agreement with possible required elements in a harassment and violence prevention policies
Policies and Reporting Figure 1:  Survey respondents’ agreement with possible required elements in a harassment and violence prevention policies
Text description
Response Number of respondents %
Employer’s commitment to provide a safe, healthy and harassment and violence-free workplace 900 90%
How employees can submit a complaint, including alternate options besides the immediate supervisor 898 90%
Options available to employees for the resolution process (informal resolution, mediation, investigator) 844 85%
What qualifies as appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, specific to the work environment 807 81%
Dedicate sufficient attention, resources, and time to address factors that contribute to harassment and violence 747 75%
How third party harassment and violence will be addressed (e.g., Harassment by a customer at a bank or on board an aircraft). 741 74%
What support will be available to those who have experienced incidents of harassment and violence 723 73%
Factors that contribute to workplace harassment and violence 693 70%
Process for former employees to bring forward a complaint 643 64%
How incidents of family violence will be addressed in the workplace 481 48%
Harassment and violence prevention training, including mandatory training on the prevention policy 406 41%
Role of the workplace policy committees, health and safety committee or health and safety representative 233 23%
Appropriate disciplinary measures 224 22%
How incidents will be reported on and tracked internally within the organization 201 20%
Commitment to ensure the privacy of all parties throughout the resolution process 181 18%
Outline reporting requirements to the Labour Program 110 11%
Other 35 4%
Prefer not to answer 4 0.4%
Grand Total 8871 997

We asked an open ended question about how the regulations on workplace harassment and violence prevention should address persons granted access to a workplace, such as job interviewees, external contractors, and volunteers.

The majority of respondents thought that this issue should be explicitly addressed in the employer’s policy.

Policies and Reporting Figure 2: Survey respondents’ on how the regulations on harassment and violence prevention should address persons granted access to a workplace, such as job interviewees, external contractors, and volunteers.
Policies and Reporting Figure 2: Survey respondents’ on how the regulations on harassment and violence prevention should address persons granted access to a workplace, such as job interviewees, external contractors, and volunteers.
Text description
Response Number of respondents %
Explicitly addressed in the employer’s policy 627 64%
Addressed through other legislation (e.g. Canadian Human Rights Act, Criminal Code.) 428 44%
Employers capture data on incidents involving persons granted access and respond when systemic issues are identified 393 40%
Other 63 6%
Prefer not to answer 49 5%
Grand Total 1560 97300%

Family violence

The effects of family violence are felt not only at home but also in the workplace. As a result, employers will be required to outline how they will respond to situations in the workplace where there is a concern that family violence may make its way into the workplace.

Regarding which provisions should be captured in the employer`s prevention policy, the chart below describes respondents’ support for particular provisions by percentage.

Family violence Figure 1: Survey respondent’s support for particular provisions in the employer’s prevention policy.
Family violence Figure 1: Survey respondent’s support for particular provisions in the employer’s prevention policy.
Text description
Response Number of respondents %
How an employer will provide support to an employee dealing with family violence, such as developing a safety plan 765 78%
Training for employees on family violence to educate them on how to identify warning signs that someone is experiencing family violence 719 73%
How and in what situations an employer should intervene 676 69%
Other 101 10%
Prefer not to answer 44 4%
Grand Total 2305 980
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