Bill 168 and Bill 132 in Ontario Workplaces

Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention

The Significance of Bill 168 and Bill 132 in Ontario Workplaces

Workplace safety and the protection of employees from harassment and violence are paramount concerns for employers and legislators alike. In Ontario, Canada, two significant pieces of legislation, namely Bill 168 and Bill 132, have been enacted to address these issues and establish comprehensive frameworks for employers to ensure the well-being of their employees. In this article, we will delve into the importance of Bill 168 and Bill 132 in Ontario workplaces, exploring their objectives, provisions, and the impact they have had on fostering safer and more inclusive work environments.

Understanding Bill 168: Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace)

Bill 168, the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace), came into effect on June 15, 2010. It was a significant milestone in addressing workplace violence and harassment in Ontario.

Key Objectives of Bill 168:

  1. Prevention of Violence and Harassment: Bill 168 aims to prevent workplace violence and harassment by requiring employers to take measures to protect their employees from these hazards.
  2. Employer Responsibilities: The legislation places specific responsibilities on employers to create and maintain a safe and harassment-free work environment.
  3. Employee Rights: Bill 168 recognizes the rights of employees to work in an environment free from violence and harassment, allowing them to report incidents without fear of reprisal.

Key Provisions of Bill 168:

  1. Workplace Assessment: Employers are required to assess the risks of workplace violence and harassment and develop policies and programs to address these risks.
  2. Written Program: Employers must establish written policies and procedures that outline the measures they will take to prevent workplace violence and harassment.
  3. Employee Training: Employers are obligated to provide training to employees on recognizing, reporting, and preventing violence and harassment.
  4. Incident Reporting: Bill 168 mandates that employers establish procedures for reporting and investigating incidents of violence and harassment.
  5. Support for Victims: Employers must support victims by implementing measures to minimize the risk of further incidents and facilitating access to support services.
  6. Reprisal Protection: The legislation protects employees from reprisal when they report incidents of workplace violence and harassment or seek support.

Impact of Bill 168:

Bill 168 had a profound impact on Ontario workplaces. It raised awareness about the importance of addressing violence and harassment and compelled employers to take concrete steps to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees. Employers became more proactive in implementing policies, conducting risk assessments, and providing training to their staff. This legislation marked a significant shift toward a safer and more respectful work culture in Ontario.

Understanding Bill 132: Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment)

Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), came into effect on September 8, 2016. It builds upon the foundation laid by Bill 168 and introduces additional measures to address sexual violence and harassment in the workplace.

Key Objectives of Bill 132:

  1. Enhanced Protection: Bill 132 aims to enhance the protection of employees from sexual violence and harassment by expanding the scope of legislative measures.
  2. Clear Definitions: The legislation provides clear definitions of sexual harassment and sexual violence, ensuring that these terms are well-understood in the workplace.
  3. Increased Accountability: Bill 132 holds employers accountable for addressing sexual harassment and violence and requires them to take even more comprehensive steps to prevent and respond to these issues.

Key Provisions of Bill 132:

  1. Expanded Definition: The legislation broadens the definition of workplace harassment to explicitly include sexual harassment.
  2. Employer Responsibilities: Employers are required to investigate all complaints of workplace harassment, including sexual harassment, and take appropriate action.
  3. Protection for Complainants: Bill 132 strengthens protections for complainants by prohibiting the disclosure of their identities in certain situations.
  4. Training Requirements: Employers must provide training on the updated policies and procedures related to sexual harassment and violence.
  5. Clear Reporting Process: The legislation mandates that employers establish a clear process for reporting incidents of sexual harassment and violence, ensuring that victims can come forward without fear.
  6. Support for Complainants: Employers must provide support to employees who have experienced sexual harassment or violence, including access to counseling services.

Impact of Bill 132:

Bill 132 significantly strengthened the legal framework for addressing sexual harassment and violence in Ontario workplaces. It compelled employers to take a more proactive stance on preventing and responding to these issues. The legislation created a more supportive environment for survivors, emphasizing the importance of confidentiality and ensuring that victims are not deterred from reporting incidents. Bill 132 has contributed to a culture shift in workplaces, making it clear that sexual harassment and violence will not be tolerated.

The Importance of Bill 168 and Bill 132 in Ontario Workplaces

  1. Creating Safer Work Environments:
    • Bill 168 and Bill 132 have played a pivotal role in creating safer and more inclusive work environments across Ontario.
    • Employers are now more accountable for ensuring that their workplaces are free from violence, harassment, and discrimination.
  2. Empowering Employees:
    • These legislations empower employees to speak out against workplace violence and harassment without fear of retaliation.
    • By establishing clear reporting procedures and protections for complainants, employees are more likely to come forward and seek help when needed.
  3. Promoting a Culture of Respect:
    • Bill 168 and Bill 132 have contributed to the promotion of a culture of respect and dignity in workplaces.
    • Employers have a vested interest in fostering respectful environments to comply with these laws and avoid legal consequences.
  4. Preventing Legal Liability:
    • Compliance with these legislations is not only a moral obligation but also a legal requirement.
    • Employers who fail to address workplace violence and harassment may face legal liabilities, including fines and penalties.
  5. Raising Awareness:
    • Bill 168 and Bill 132 have raised awareness about the importance of addressing workplace violence and harassment.
    • These legislations have prompted employers to prioritize training and education on these issues.
  6. Supporting Survivors:
    • Bill 132, in particular, has introduced measures to better support survivors of sexual harassment and violence.
    • By providing access to counseling services and ensuring confidentiality, employers can assist survivors in their recovery.
  7. Enhancing Organizational Reputation:
    • Organizations that proactively address workplace violence and harassment can enhance their reputation as responsible employers.
    • Such organizations are more attractive to potential employees and customers.

Bill 168 and Bill 132 have played crucial roles in shaping workplace safety and culture in Ontario. These legislations have propelled employers to take decisive actions to prevent and address workplace violence, harassment, and sexual violence. By adhering to the requirements outlined in these bills, employers not only fulfill their legal obligations but also contribute to the creation of safer, more respectful, and inclusive workplaces. The importance of Bill 168 and Bill 132 in Ontario workplaces cannot be overstated, as they represent a significant step forward in safeguarding the well-being and dignity of employees across the province.