Parliament Takes a Stand: Bill C-65 Proposed to Take Aim at Harassment in Federal Workplaces
With news stories pouring in daily about the terrible misconduct of Hollywood’s most powerful, the Canadian government is proactively taking steps to ensure that federal employees, from the most prominent politicians down to bank and postal workers, do not find their names in the news for all the wrong reasons.
In its second reading, Bill C-65 aims to crack down on harassment in federal workplaces. The goal is to provide both workers and federal employers with a “clear course of action to better deal with allegations of bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment, exerting more pressure on companies to combat unacceptable behaviour and punish those who do not take it seriously.”
What’s Changing Under the Proposed Bill C-65?
The proposed changes include a merger of labour standards for sexual harassment and violence, strict privacy rules to protect victims, and the right to bring in an external investigator to review allegations. As well, if Bill C-65 passes, anyone unhappy with the way that their complaint is handled can complain to the federal labour minister, who may choose to step in.
To Whom Does Bill C-65 Apply?
Bill C-65, if passed, will cover all federal employees. This includes banks, telecommunications, transportation, flight and rail, and government employees. It will include politicians, their staff, Parliament Hill employees, and any other staff or industry covered by the Canadian Labour Code.
A federal survey showed that two-fifths of harassment complaints are being ignored. While the sample surveyed is not representative of the overall population because the sample wasn’t blind, it still indicates a large problem. Couple the issue of not investigating complaints with the increasing reports of harassment and misconduct in the media, and now is the perfect time for Parliament to look at strengthening the protection from harassment it offers its employees. Labour Minister Patty Hajdu wants to give the public confidence that inappropriate office behaviour will not be tolerated.
What can Federal Employers do to Prepare for Bill C-65?
Minister Hajdu states that proactive federal employers have already taken action by implementing and enforcing workplace violence and harassment policies and programs that protect workers from violence, harassment, and sexual harassment. For federal employers still lacking a program, Hajdu recommends that they get ahead of the curve on Bill C-65 by implementing a policy and program that protects workers and takes the threat of harassment seriously, and has a plan in place to deal with all complaints.
In order to help facilitate the development of such programs for federal employers, the government is consulting labour and employer groups to develop clear definitions, third-party investigators that can be used to look into complaints, and a system to track complaints in order to allow federal workplaces to better plan spot inspections.
OSG keeps you in the loop with any legislation changes regarding Workplace Violence and Harassment, and automatically notify you when employees require training. Our goal is to help you and your company stay compliant.
Written by Jennifer Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator
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