Today, September 8th, 2016, Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016, became law.
This bill adds significant protections for all employees from sexual harassment at the workplace. That means: whether you are a small company or a big corporation, and you have employees working at your workplace, you are obliged to have an employee handbook that deals with sexual harassment at the workplace.
Employers have the duty to implement sexual harassment policies to protect employees from such behaviour before it takes place. Bill 132 does more than just address how to rectify a situation after sexual harassment takes place; it goes as far as mandates on employers to have policy in place to prevent sexual harassment from happening in the first place.
If you are an employee, your rights at the workplace and your protection remain the same: you should work in a safe environment free from all sexual harassment and bullying. You have the right to work without any such treatment that makes you feel unsafe. Further, if you refuse sexual advances, you cannot be terminated.
If you are an employer, whether large or small, you should have policy in place to prevent and address employee complaints about sexual harassment at your workplace. Failing which, you may be found liable at both, the Courts or the Human Rights Tribunal. Your investigation into complaints should be proactive. Further, if you receive no complaints, but have information that sexual harassment may be affecting your employees, you have the duty to investigate.
Employees often do not report sexual harassment at the workplace for fear of losing their employment. Employers should go a step further and encourage their employees to speak up against their perpetrators and file complaints about the incidents that took place.
To better navigate the new law and make sure you are in compliance, contact us today to see how we can help. We help you draft sexual harassment policy that helps avoid future legal consequences in case one of your employees is sexual harassed or sexual harasses another one of your employees.
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