Bill C-65: Canada Labour Code’s New Harassment Framework March 14 2018
Purpose: The purpose of the HR Minute is to provide clients with timely information about human resources issues. Please take a moment to read this important information.
Introduced in November 2017, the federal government is currently reviewing Bill C-65, which, if passed into law, would present some important amendments to the Canada Labour Code’s standards and process around workplace violence and harassment, including sexual harassment and violence.
Bill C-65 would also ensure the application of those same provisions to parliamentary and political staff, governed by the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act (“PESRA”).
Proposed Changes to the Canada Labour Code
If passed, Bill C-65 would expand a number of provisions in Part II, Occupational Health and Safety. Some of the proposed changes include:
- New federal regulations surrounding the obligation for federal employers to take measures against and respond to harassment in the workplace. Employers would be required to investigate, record, and report all “accidents, occurrences of harassment or violence, occupational illnesses and other hazardous occurrences known to the employer.”
- The inclusion of “psychological injuries” and “psychological illnesses” as consequences of abuse, instead of focusing on physical injury.
- A new complaint reporting structure that would forward unresolved harassment or violence complaints directly to the attention of the Minister of Employment for investigation.
- New rules and guidelines regarding the complainant’s right to privacy; specifically, which employer agents are able to participate in an investigation without the employee’s explicit consent.
Proposed Changes to the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act
Presently, no legislative occupational health and safety standards apply to employees of the House of Commons, the Senate, the Library of Parliament, the Parliamentary Protective Service, or the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Bill C-65 would expressly provide for the application of the majority of the Code’s Occupational Health and Safety provisions to those employees and individuals who are not employees but are performing activities, the primary purpose of which is to enable the person to acquire knowledge and experience.
Being that this is a federal amendment, it applies chiefly to employees working in the public sector. However, the bill will likely serve as a valuable guide for employers of all jurisdictions.
Federally-regulated employers, including those covered by the PESRA, should consider whether Bill C-65’s proposed changes require an examination or revision of current policies and practices on workplace violence or harassment.
As of the time of writing, Bill C-65 is currently being read in committee and could be subject to further amendment. We will continue to report on this story as it develops; keep an eye on our website for updates.
Date: March, 2018