Sample harassment and violence prevention policy – Delta Company

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Note: Employment and Social Development Canada – Labour Program developed this sample harassment and violence prevention policy for educational purposes only. This sample policy does not intend to reflect the needs of all employers. You, as the employer, must jointly with your applicable partner adapt this policy or create an entirely new policy that best suits your organization. Note that this sample policy assumes Delta Company has more than 300 employees, and so includes the provisions that apply to policy committees.

List of abbreviations

The Code
Canada Labour Code
The Regulations
Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations
HVP
Harassment and Violence Prevention

Mission statement

Delta Company, in co-operation with our unions, is committed to a healthy, harassment-free and violence-free environment for all our employees. Delta Company has developed a company-wide policy intended to:

  • prevent and respond to workplace harassment and violence of any type, and
  • effectively address any incident that might occur

Application

This policy applies to all employees and contractors at Delta Company who are engaged in work, work-related activities or work-related relationships. It applies to employees and contractors both on company property and outside of company property. This policy applies to all incidents of workplace harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, family violence and third party violence.

Definition of harassment and violence

The Canada Labour Code (the Code) defines harassment and violence at subsection 122(1) 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.”

Harassment

Harassment can include, but is not limited to any of the following acts or attempted acts:

  • spreading rumours or gossip about an individual or group
  • cyber bullying (threatening, spreading rumours or talking negatively about an individual online)
  • threats made over the phone, by email, or through other medium to an employee, including from an (ex)partner or family member
  • making offensive jokes or remarks
  • playing unwanted practical jokes
  • socially excluding or isolating someone
  • stalking or inappropriately following a person
  • tampering with someone’s work equipment or personal belongings
  • vandalizing or hiding personal belongings or work equipment
  • impeding a person’s work in any deliberate way
  • persistently criticizing, undermining, belittling, demeaning or ridiculing a person
  • intruding on a person’s privacy
  • public ridicule or discipline
  • unwelcomed physical contact
  • sexual innuendo or insinuation
  • unwanted and inappropriate invitations or requests, including of a sexual nature
  • displaying offensive posters, cartoons, images or other visuals
  • making aggressive, threatening or rude gestures
  • misusing authority, including:
    • constantly changing work guidelines
    • restricting information
    • setting impossible deadlines that lead to failure, and/or
    • blocking applications for leave, training or promoting in an arbitrary manner
  • engaging in any of the actions, conduct and comments outlined above against a person because of that person’s:
    • race
    • national or ethnic origin
    • colour
    • religion
    • age
    • sex
    • sexual orientation
    • gender identity or expression
    • marital status
    • family status
    • genetic characteristics
    • disability, or
    • any of the other prohibited grounds that the Canadian Human Rights Act lists

Harassment is not

Harassment is not any of the following:

  • consensual workplace banter and interactions (unless it includes hurtful remarks about others, especially if they pertain to any of the prohibited grounds listed above)
  • reasonable management action carried out in a fair way, such as day-to-day actions by a supervisor or manager related to:
    • performance
    • absenteeism
    • assignments
    • discipline, and
    • even dismissal (unless it is abusive or discriminatory)
  • every workplace disagreement, if a conflict is poorly handled or left unresolved, it can lead to harassment

Violence

Violence can include but is not limited to the following acts or attempted acts:

  • verbal threats or intimidation
  • verbal abuse, including swearing or shouting offensively at a person
  • contact of a sexual nature
  • kicking, punching, scratching, biting, squeezing, pinching, battering, hitting or wounding a person in any way
  • attack with any type of weapon
  • spitting at a person

Role of Delta Company

The role of Delta Company in relation to harassment and violence prevention includes:

  • committing to preventing harassment and violence in the workplace
  • jointly reviewing and, when necessary, updating this policy with the policy committee at least once every 3 years or following any change to an element of this policy
  • jointly conducting an initial workplace assessment with the policy committee
  • jointly monitoring and, when necessary, updating the work place assessment with the policy committee when there is:
    • a change to the risk factors identified, or
    • a change in the effectiveness of the preventive measures that have been developed and implemented
  • jointly reviewing and updating the workplace assessment with the work place committee:
    • in situations where the principal party chooses to end the resolution process but the occurrence is not resolved, or
    • in situations where the responding party is not an employee or the employer
  • jointly reviewing the workplace assessment with the policy committee and, when necessary, updating it
  • jointly developing emergency procedures with the policy committee
  • deploying the workplace emergency procedures whenever an incident, including an incident of family violence or domestic violence, poses an immediate danger to the health and safety of an employee or there is a threat of such an incident
  • jointly reviewing and, when necessary, updating the emergency procedures with the policy committee
  • making available to all employees information related to support services
  • jointly developing or identifying harassment and violence prevention training with the policy committee
  • delivering harassment and violence training to all employees and the designated recipient
  • jointly reviewing and, when necessary, updating the training with the policy committee at least once every 3 years and following any change to an element of the training
  • ensuring that the designated recipient correctly follows the resolution process that is outlined in the Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations (the Regulations)
  • for investigations into an occurrence of harassment and violence, providing a copy of the investigator’s report to the principal party, responding party, and workplace committee
  • jointly determining with the workplace committee which recommendations from the investigator’s report should be implemented
  • implementing the jointly determined recommendations from the investigator’s report
  • ensuring the resolution process is completed within 1 year after the day on which a notice of an occurrence is received
  • reporting to the Labour Program employee deaths resulting from occurrences of harassment and violence, within 24 hours of becoming aware of the death
  • providing the Labour Program by March 1st of every year an annual report summarizing the data on all occurrences of harassment and violence in the previous calendar year
  • complying with all other aspects of the Regulations and the Code as it relates to harassment and violence

Role of designated recipient (the Harassment and Violence Prevention (HVP) Unit)

Under this policy, the Harassment and Violence Prevention (HVP) Unit will act as the designated recipient. The role of the HVP Unit in relation to harassment and violence prevention at Delta Company includes:

  • responding to all notices of an occurrence within 7 days of receiving the notice
  • initiating negotiated resolution with the principal party within 45 days after the day on which the notice of an occurrence is received
  • reviewing every notice of an occurrence with the principal party against the definition of harassment and violence outlined in subsection 122(1) of the Code
  • making every reasonable effort to resolve an occurrence for which a notice has been provided
  • allowing the principal and responding parties the option of participating in conciliation if they both agree to participate and on who will facilitate the conciliation
  • providing notice of an investigation to the principal and responding parties if the principal party requests an investigation
  • in the case of an investigation, selecting a person to act as an investigator from the list of investigators developed jointly by Delta Company and the policy committee
  • ensuring selected investigators have the necessary knowledge, training and experience required by the Regulations
  • ensuring investigators provide a written statement indicating they are not in a conflict of interest with respect to the occurrence
  • providing investigators all the information that is relevant to their investigation
  • providing monthly status updates to the principal and responding parties on the status of the resolution process

Role of the policy committee

The role of the policy committee in relation to harassment and violence prevention at Delta Company includes:

  • jointly reviewing and, when necessary, updating this policy with Delta Company at least once every 3 years or following any change to an element of this policy
  • jointly conducting the workplace assessment with Delta Company and making recommendations to Delta Company regarding changes that should be made
  • jointly monitoring and, when necessary, updating the work place assessment with Delta Company when there is:
    • a change to the risk factors identified, or
    • a change to the effectiveness of the preventive measures that have been developed and implemented
  • jointly reviewing and, when necessary, updating with Delta Company the workplace assessment every 3 years
  • jointly developing the emergency procedures with Delta Company
  • jointly reviewing and, when necessary, updating the emergency procedures with Delta Company
  • jointly identifying with Delta Company appropriate harassment and violence training
  • jointly reviewing and, when necessary, updating the training with Delta Company at least once every 3 years and following any change to an element of the training
  • jointly developing a list of investigators with Delta Company
  • where appropriate, checking in with Delta Company, if necessary, ensuring continuous compliance with the Regulations and the Code

Note: If you, as the employer, have less than 300 employees but more than 20, you must move all of the above policy committee roles to the Role of the workplace committee section. If you have less than 20 employees, you must create a section titled “Role of health and safety representative” and move all of the above policy committee and workplace committee roles to that section.

Role of the workplace committee

The role of the workplace committee in relation to harassment and violence prevention at Delta Company includes:

  • implementing the preventive measures developed by the policy committee at the local workplace level
  • jointly reviewing and updating with Delta Company the workplace assessment:
    • in situations where the principal party chooses to end the resolution process but the occurrence is not resolved, or
    • in situations where the responding party is not an employee or the employer (for example, clients, contractors, former partners)
  • referring the results of the above reviews and updates to the policy committee where appropriate
  • jointly determining with Delta Company which of the investigator’s recommendations from the investigator’s report are appropriate to implement

Role of employees

The role of all employees in relation to harassment and violence prevention at Delta Company include:

  • refraining from committing harassment and violence
  • where appropriate and safe, informing a person committing harassment and violence that their actions are inappropriate and unwelcomed
  • reporting all occurrences of harassment and violence to their supervisor or the HVP Unit when they experience or witness it
  • where appropriate, making every reasonable effort to resolve an occurrence of harassment and violence through negotiated resolution if they were a party to an occurrence
  • cooperating with an investigator and the investigation process related to an occurrence
  • refraining from retaliatory behaviour against the principal party, responding party, witnesses and any other individuals who are involved in the resolution process for an occurrence
  • respecting the confidentiality of the information shared throughout the resolution process of an occurrence

Factors that contribute to workplace harassment and violence

There are a number of factors that can contribute to workplace harassment and violence. These factors can be divided into 5 general categories:

Note: The following list is customizable. As the employer, you should, jointly with your applicable partner, add or remove the risk factors that are applicable to your workplace or that you identified in your workplace risk assessment.

Client characteristics

Working with clients that exhibit certain characteristics can put employees at greater risk of harassment and violence. This can include working with clients, and their relatives, who may lash out at the closest person due to:

  • being angry and frustrated with the system
  • having a history of violence
  • a mental health condition, emotional disorder, or a head injury
  • racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist or otherwise discriminatory attitudes and behaviors
  • being under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Physical work environment

Certain work environments and workplace designs can result in additional risks that may lead to harassment and violence. These can include:

  • working alone, in small numbers or in isolated or low-traffic areas (for example, isolated reception area, washrooms, storage areas, utility rooms)
  • working in community-based settings (for example, home visitors)
  • having a mobile workplace
  • working in a poorly designed client area, such as a cramped room or a room that has poor visibility of clients
  • working in an overcrowded environment
  • working in an environment with high noise levels

Work activity/culture

  • working with the public
  • handling money, prescription medication or items of significant value
  • working with volatile persons (for example, criminal justice system employees who work with inmates)
  • working on premises where alcohol is served
  • working in an environment that tolerates or promotes racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, or otherwise discriminatory attitudes and behaviours
  • working during periods of intense organizational change (for example, strikes, privatization, restructuring, downsizing)
  • working in the same workplace with an (ex) partner who is abusive

Job factors

Aspects specific to a job, such as mental and physical demands of the job, can result in additional hazards that may lead to harassment and violence. This can include:

  • lack of control over how work is done
  • excessive workload
  • unreasonable or tight deadlines leading to high stress
  • confusing, conflicting or unclear job or roles
  • ambiguous or complicated reporting structures
  • lack of job security

Other external factors

Other external factors that can result in harassment and violence include:

  • Family violence or domestic violence, such as a family member or (ex) partner:
    • threatening an employee or co-workers either verbally or over the phone or email
    • stalking the employee
    • verbally abusing the employee or co-workers
    • destroying the employee or organization’s property
    • physically harming the employee or co-workers
    • using work time or workplace resources to monitor or attempt to control the actions of an (ex) partner

Harassment and violence prevention training

Delta Company will provide all of its employees with a 1-day harassment and violence training course. This course will cover:

  • elements of the work place harassment and violence prevention policy
  • the relationship between workplace harassment and violence and the prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act
  • how to recognize, minimize and prevent work place harassment and violence

All new employees will receive training within 3 months after the day on which their employment begins. Further, all employees will receive this training again at least once every 3 years.

The following groups will receive training on their obligations in relation to harassment and violence at least once every 3 years:

  • supervisors
  • managers
  • directors, and
  • members of the HVP Unit

Outline of the resolution process

Below is a summary of the resolution process. It includes how a principal party, or witness, can submit a notice of an occurrence.

Notice of an occurrence

You are encouraged to notify the HVP Unit (the designated recipient) if:

  • you are an employee who is experiencing or have experienced harassment and violence in the workplace, or
  • you are an individual (employees or non-employees) who witnessed an occurrence of harassment and violence in the workplace

Notify the HVP Unit by telephone at (819) 555-5555, or by email at: hvp@deltacompany.com.

The HVP Unit will ask the employee or individual to fill out a form, in which they provide the following information:

  • the name of the principal party and the responding party (if known)
  • the date of the occurrence
  • a detailed description of the occurrence

If an employee or individual is not able to provide this information in written form, they may provide this information to the HVP Unit verbally. The HVP Unit will then transcribe the information for them on the form.

Please note that, in order to proceed with the resolution process, it is mandatory to provide the name or identity of the principal party who was involved in the occurrence. If you do not provide the name or identity of the principal party, the occurrence will not be further reviewed.

Delta Company cannot reveal the identities of the parties involved in the resolution process for an occurrence to either the policy committee or workplace committee without the consent of the parties. However, the identities of the parties may be revealed to each other as part of the resolution process.

Negotiated resolution

Negotiated resolution is a form of informal resolution where the principal party meets with the employer or designated recipient to:

  • discuss the occurrence
  • clarify what was submitted in the notice of occurrence, and
  • attempt to reach resolution

During negotiated resolution, the HVP Unit will ask the principal party to meet, either in person or by phone, with a member from the HVP Unit. This meeting is for an initial discussion regarding the occurrence. During this discussion, the member of the HVP Unit and the principal party will review the notice of occurrence that they received against the definition of harassment and violence in the Code. Together, they will try to determine whether the occurrence meets the definition. If both the member of the HVP Unit and the principal party agree that the occurrence does not meet the definition, then they will deem the occurrence as resolved. If the member of the HVP Unit and the principal party do not agree as to whether the occurrence meets the definition, and the principal party wishes to continue with the resolution process, then the principal party has the option of either:

  • continuing with negotiated resolution, or
  • pursuing conciliation and/or an investigation

If the principal party wishes to continue with negotiated resolution, they must inform the HVP Unit of this decision. The HVP Unit will schedule a series of meetings with the principal party. At the meetings, where applicable, the responding party will discuss the occurrence and attempt to achieve resolution. The responding party does not have to be informed of the principal party’s notice of occurrence or be involved at this stage of the resolution process. This is only if the principal party does not wish for them to be notified or involved. The HVP Unit can arrange for any of the following meetings:

  • meetings with only the principal party and a member from HVP Unit
  • meetings with the principal party, responding party and a member from the HVP Unit
  • meetings between the principal party and a member from HVP Unit with concurrent but separate meetings between the responding party and a member from the HVP Unit

Conciliation

A principal party and responding party may engage in conciliation at any time during the resolution process. However, conciliation can only proceed if both the principal party and the responding party agree to engage in conciliation. They must also agree on the person who will facilitate the conciliation. However, conciliation can only proceed if an investigator has not provided their final investigation report.

The principal party and responding party are required to inform the HVP Unit of their desire to participate in conciliation. The HVP Unit will then facilitate discussion around the selection of a conciliator who is agreeable to both parties. The HVP Unit will also schedule time for both parties to meet with the conciliator.

Investigation

The principal party may request an investigation at any time during the resolution process. If the principal party wishes to proceed with an investigation, they must inform the HVP Unit. The HVP Unit will then:

  • provide notice of an investigation to the principal and responding party, and
  • select an investigator from the list that has been jointly developed with the policy committee

The selected investigator will investigate the occurrence and provide Delta Company a report outlining:

  • a general description of the occurrence
  • their conclusion, and
  • their recommendation to eliminate or minimize the risk of a similar occurrence

Delta Company will then provide a copy of this report to the principal party, responding party and the workplace committee.

The report will not reveal, directly or indirectly, the identity of the persons who were involved in the occurrence or the resolution process for the occurrence.

Delta Company and the workplace committee will then meet to determine which of the recommendations in the investigator’s report are to be implemented. Delta Company will implement those recommendations within 1 year of receiving the notice of occurrence.

Delta Company may take into consideration the findings in an investigator’s report when applying disciplinary measures. However, disciplinary measures will also depend on the findings from a separate administrative investigation that the Delta Company will conduct in some circumstances.

Delta Company cannot use the findings in an investigator’s report for any of the following purposes:

  • replenishment of sick leave
  • granting of any additional paid or unpaid leave
  • monetary remuneration for damages

However, the section Recourse avenues in this policy describes other recourse methods an employee can pursue.

Representation

At any time during the resolution process, an employee may be accompanied or represented by a:

  • union representative
  • friend
  • partner
  • colleague, or
  • person of their choosing

Protection against reprisal

Parties involved in an occurrence are prohibited from seeking retaliation. If you experience any retaliatory action or threat of retaliatory action from the responding party, witnesses, management, or other people within or outside the organization, please inform the HVP Unit immediately.

Workplace assessment

The HVP Unit and the workplace committee will conduct a joint review. If necessary, they will update the workplace assessment if an employee submits a notice of an occurrence and the resolution process cannot proceed for any of the following reasons:

  • the principal party chooses to end the resolution process at any point during the resolution process but the occurrence is not resolved
  • the responding party is not an employee or the employer (for example, the responding party is a member of the public, a client, or an (ex)partner or family member)

The purpose of the review and update of the workplace assessment is to:

  • determine what happened, taking into account the circumstances of the occurrence
  • determine whether all risk factors have been appropriately identified
  • develop new preventive measures, if needed, to mitigate the risk of a similar occurrence

For more information, consult the sample workplace harassment and violence risk assessment tool.

Emergency procedures

If a harassment and violence occurrence poses an immediate danger to the health and safety of an employee, or if there is a threat of such an occurrence, please contact the Security Office at (819) 444-4444 or call 911 for emergency services (police, fire and ambulance). Employees can also contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 1-(800) 333-3333.

Below is a summary of the emergency procedures that the Delta Company must implement in various types of situations.

Violence in the workplace

If you witness or experience violence at work:

  • remove yourself from the situation if you can
  • inform your manager or seek help from a co-worker immediately
  • if your manager is the perpetrator, notify another manager in the line of authority
  • if your physical security or well-being is threatened, press your panic button and if possible call 911
  • contact the Security Office as soon as you are able to do so

If you are dealing with a violent person:

  • stay calm
  • try to calm the other person or diffuse the situation (if you can)
  • avoid saying or doing anything that could aggravate the situation
  • avoid eye contact or sudden movements that can be perceived as threatening
  • respect the person’s personal space
  • continue the conversation with the person only if the person calms down
  • tell the person that you understand the reason for their anger
  • if the behavior persists, end the conversation
  • politely notify the person that you will leave the work area or ask them to do so
  • notify your manager or seek help from a co-worker immediately (use the panic button if necessary)
  • if the person refuses to leave the premises and the situation escalates call 911 and contact the Security Office

Active shooter

If you witness an incident involving an active shooter outside the building:

  • stay out of sight (away from windows) and warn colleagues, clients and visitors
  • leave the area at risk
  • when safe to do so, call 911, the Security Office and other building occupants
  • if you cannot evacuate the building safely, lock outside doors and close the blinds and curtains
  • wait for instructions from first responders

If you witness an incident involving an active shooter inside the building:

  • stay calm
  • if you can do so safely, leave the area immediately
  • warn others, as many as possible, without attracting the attention of the assailant
  • if you can do so safely, call 911 and notify the Security Office and other building occupants
  • lock the doors or barricade yourself in a room using furniture
  • block the windows, close the office blinds and curtains
  • if the workspace has no door, hide under your desk or where you cannot be seen
  • if you are in a washroom, remain there, if safe to do so
  • silence your cellphone, turn off radios and computers
  • if you cannot escape, remain silent and hide until first responders arrive
  • wait for instructions from first responders

Bomb threat

If you are made aware of a bomb threat by telephone:

  • listen to the caller calmly and do not interrupt them
  • try to get as much information as possible, such as:
    • when the bomb is supposed to explode
    • where the bomb is located
    • description of the device
    • reason for the call or motivation for the threat
    • telephone number on the display screen (if possible)
  • remember any details you can about the caller, such as:
    • approximate age
    • gender
    • accent
    • level of nervousness
    • any background noise
  • call 911 and inform your manager and the Security Office
  • remain available to provide information to first responders

If you are made aware of a bomb threat by e-mail:

  • save the email (or letter)
  • send it immediately to the Security Office

If a bomb alert is activated (for example, over intercom):

  • visually inspect your immediate work area including:
    • wastepaper baskets
    • storage areas
    • dislodged suspended ceiling panels
    • furniture that has been moved
    • closets
  • inform your manager of the results of your search
  • if you find a suspicious package, do not touch it and inform the Security Office immediately
  • do not evacuate the building until the security services authorize you to do so

Privacy protection

Delta Company is committed to the protection of the privacy of the persons involved in an occurrence. As such, the policy committee and the workplace committee are not permitted any involvement in the resolution process of an occurrence. Only trained staff in the HVP Unit will engage in the resolution process with the principal party and responding party. Further, we will not permit an investigator to disclose in any report it produces and distributes the identity of any of the persons involved in an occurrence or the resolution process for an occurrence. This includes the principal party, responding party, witnesses and any other individuals interviewed by the investigator.

Recourse avenues

Employees can pursue multiple recourse avenues for their occurrence. This includes:

  • filing a grievance with the Union
  • pursuing recourse under the Canadian Human Rights Act with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, or
  • pursuing recourse under the Criminal Code

Support measures

Employees can access a list of medical, psychological or other support services available within a 30km radius at the following link: [insert link here]. Supports and resources related to family violence are available at Ending Violence Canada - Support Services.

Notices submitted in bad faith

Notices of harassment and violence that are identified throughout the resolution process as having been made in bad faith may be subject to disciplinary action.

Complaints related to employer non-compliance with the Code or Regulations

In accordance with section 127.1 of the Code or Regulations, if you, as an employee believe that there has been a contravention of the Code as it relates to an occurrence of harassment and violence, you may make either a verbal or a written complaint to your supervisor or to John Smith, Human Resources Coordinator. You can reach John Smith at (819) 222-2222 or at johnsmith@deltacompany.com.

Definitions

The following definitions apply to this policy:

  • Designated recipient means the work unit that has been designated by Delta Company, to whom a notice of an occurrence may be submitted. For the purposes of this Policy, the HVP Unit will act as the designated recipient
  • Occurrence means an occurrence of harassment and violence in the workplace
  • Principal party means an employee or employer who is the object of an occurrence
  • Responding party means the person who is alleged to have been responsible for the occurrence in a notice of an occurrence provided to the designated recipient
  • Witness means a person who witnessed an occurrence of harassment and violence or is informed of an occurrence by the principal party or responding party
  • Workplace means any place where an employee is engaged in work for the employee’s employer as per 122(1) of the Code
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