On September 8, 2016 Ontario Employers must comply with the changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act that address Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.
The changes are not difficult to comply with, they essentially involve ensuring your current workplace policies address sexual harassment, have a plan to investigate incidents and complaints of workplace harassment, inform the parties to any such complaint of the results of the investigation and what action is taken and, if applicable, involve the Joint Health and Safety Committee in developing written programs and procedures.
The big take way from the changes are: put it in writing. Do not have verbal policies. Do not only communicate the results of investigations in a conversation. Put it in writing.
While the Ontario Government, in their TV campaign introducing these change in the Spring of 2016 appears to believe that sexual harassment is always a man harassing a woman, that is not in fact the case and employers must be prepared for same sex harassment, transgender harassment and women sexually harassing men.
If you’re not certain your workplace policies comply with the changes required by September 8, 2016, reach out to a Business Law lawyer to have them review what you are currently using. It is less expensive to pay a lawyer to prepare proper policies than it is to respond to a complaint.
Inga B. Andriessen JD