The Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations set out the responsibilities of employers when it comes to preventing and addressing workplace sexual harassment. One of the most important responsibilities is worker safety.
Employers in Ontario have a legal obligation to provide a safe, healthy and respectful workplace, including preventing and addressing workplace sexual harassment.
Employers must also comply with the Ontario Human Rights Code, which protects workers from discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity in employment.
Sexual harassment can negatively impact the workplace and lead to:
Studies have shown that having a positive and healthy work environment makes workers happier, increases productivity and profitability, and creates a respected public image.
Workplace safety is more than just ensuring everyone is physically safe; it also includes the prevention and elimination of workplace sexual harassment. Here are some tips for ensuring a safe workplace for all.
A clear and comprehensive sexual harassment policy helps employers reduce and prevent workplace sexual harassment.
Policies educate workers, managers, volunteers, consultants and others in the workplace about their rights, roles, and responsibilities in preventing and addressing workplace sexual harassment.
The policy must:
All harassment policies and procedures must be in writing, accessible to workers, and regularly updated.
For sample policies, click here
Regular training for workers on sexual harassment policies and procedures ensures that workers know the steps for making and resolving complaints.
Managers should be prepared to receive and respond to complaints about sexual harassment.
Training should occur at least once a year and anytime someone returns to work after a leave/absence, has changed roles, or there is a new hire.
Workers who have been trained are better able to:
Being proactive by properly educating your workers on workplace sexual harassment will help limit harm, reduce liability and promote equity and diversity goals in the workplace. Proactive education and training make good business sense.
Contact us for more information on free training on workplace sexual harassment.
The Courts have established several factors that it considers when determining if an employer has met its legal obligations for responding to and addressing workplace sexual harassment, including but not limited to: