Bill 168: New law takes aim at bullying and violence in the workplace
Effective June 15, 2010, amendments to the Ontario Health and Safety Act (Bill 168) outline new responsibilities for employers to play a more active role in preventing, stopping and remediating situations of general harassment (bullying), workplace violence, and domestic violence that emerges in the workplace.
Bill 168 takes aim at eliminating workplace harassment, which is defined as a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. The new legislation also requires employers to take reasonable precaution to protect workers not just from physical violence or threats of violence, but also from domestic violence—including physical, emotional, and psychological abuse—that puts an employee and co-workers at potential risk in the workplace.
Under the new legislation, any incident of workplace harassment or incident of workplace violence or domestic violence that would likely expose a worker to physical injury must be investigated, addressed, and later reported to Western’s Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee.
Bill 168 also specifies the right of employees to refuse to work if they have reason to believe they are in danger of becoming a victim of workplace violence. The Bill requires employers to inform employees about risks of workplace violence posed by a person with a history of violent behaviour in situations where employees can be expected to encounter that person in the course of their work and if the risk of workplace violence is likely to expose the employee to physical injury. Campus Police and/or Human Resources will be involved in this decision making.
Western has many programs, procedures, and resources in place to assess and manage workplace risks, to prevent and respond to incidents of violence and harassment, and to inform supervisors and employees of their rights and duties in relation to maintaining a safe and respectful campus. In response to Bill 168, Campus Community Police Service, Human Resources, Housing, and the Registrar are collaborating to amend Western’s Safe Campus Policy to ensure it addresses all requirements outlined in the new legislation.
Western’s response also includes a campus-wide education program. A learning session was held for 180 leaders and supervisors in Resources and Operations on March 30, and another 175 Academic and Administrative Leaders at the May 13 Leaders’ Forum.
If you encounter a situation involving harassment, staff in Human Resources are available for collaboration, and if there are personal safety concerns relating to workplace violence or domestic violence, please contact Campus Police immediately.
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