Bill 132- Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Bill 132 came into force on September 8, 2016 and introduced amendments to a number of statutes, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Bill 132 builds on the Bill 168 amendments to OHSA, which in 2010 explicitly recognized workplace violence and harassment as occupational health and safety issues.

Pursuant to Bill 132, OHSA’s definition of “workplace harassment” has been updated to include “sexual harassment” which is defined in OHSA as: “(a) engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonable to be known to be unwelcome, or (b) making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.”

Along with this new definition, there are new obligations that employers have:

The first includes the requirement for employers to set up an effective complaint mechanism that will not directly or indirectly discourage workers from bringing issues forward.

In particular, employers are required to update their anti-harassment policies and procedures to “include measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace harassment to a person other than the employer or supervisor, if the employer or supervisor is the alleged harasser,”set out how information obtained during an investigation, including identifying information about any individuals involved, will not be disclosed unless necessary for the purpose of investigating or taking corrective action or otherwise as required by law.”