On Monday, January 30th, the Government of Canada ratified the first-ever global treaty on ending violence and harassment in the workplace!
Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan Jr. ratified the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190, the Violence and Harassment Convention (C190) in Geneva, Switzerland.
The treaty provides a clear framework to prohibit, prevent and address workplace violence and harassment.
“No one should face violence or harassment on the job—not in Canada, or anywhere else. We’re joining countries around the world to protect workers, and make sure they have the safe, respectful workplaces they deserve,” said Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr.
His comments were echoed by ILO Director-General, Mr. Gilbert F. Houngbo: “By ratifying Convention No. 190, Canada reaffirms its longstanding commitment to the creation of a world of work free from violence and harassment, based on dignity and respect for all and leaving no one behind. It is time to make that right a reality everywhere, thereby promoting and realizing social justice for all.”
Workplace violence and harassment have traditionally been handled in a disconnected manner, either as a matter of equality or occupational health and safety. C190 brings these together in an integrated approach, demanding that violence and harassment be prohibited, prevented and tackled in laws, policies and collective bargaining.
C190 additionally recognizes that women and other vulnerable workers face higher rates of violence and harassment at work and stresses the need for equal treatment and non-discrimination in employment.
The federal government press release says Canada played a strong leadership role in the development, adoption and advancement of the treaty; chairing the International Labour Conference standard-setting committee that negotiated the Convention in 2018 and 2019, and participating in the international negotiations that led to its adoption.
Growing focus on workplace violence and harassment
The problem of workplace violence and harassment has been a growing concern for employers and employees over recent years, and there have been efforts to both address and prevent it.
Some of the recent changes we’ve seen in Canadian law around workplace violence and harassment include:
Expansion of definition: The definition of workplace violence and harassment has been expanded to include not only physical violence but also psychological harassment.
Duty to report: Employers now have a legal obligation to report incidents of workplace violence to government authorities.
Prevention and response plan: Employers are now required to have a written prevention and response plan in place to deal with incidents of workplace violence and harassment.
Employee right to refuse work: Employees now have the right to refuse work they believe to be dangerous, including work that may result in workplace violence or harassment.
Training requirements: Employers are now required to provide their employees with training on workplace violence and harassment, including how to recognize and report incidents.
The changes aim to enhance the protection of employees from workplace violence and harassment, and improve the overall work environment in Canada.
How common is violence and harassment at work?
Workplace violence and harassment continue to be prevalent issues. According to a 2019 survey by the Canadian Labour Congress, over half of Canadian workers have experienced workplace harassment, and one in four has experienced violence in the workplace.
The same survey also found that women, younger workers, and workers in certain industries are more likely to experience workplace violence and harassment.
Be part of the solution
Are you doing everything you can to protect employees from violence and harassment at work?
Here is a checklist of recommendations for creating a safe work environment and demonstrating due diligence:
- Harassment policies and programs
- Mechanisms for maintaining confidentiality
- Easily accessible complaint procedures
- Provisions for investigating incidents
- Information about how the results of the investigation will be provided to the alleged target and the alleged harasser
- Consistent accountability
- A leadership team committed to mitigating sexual harassment in the workplace
- Consistent training and retraining❗
Is your organization following all of these recommendations?
Workplace Violence and Harassment Awareness Training
Recognizing violence is the first step towards preventing it. SafetyVantage’s Workplace Violence and Harassment Awareness course is designed to help employers and workers recognize workplace violence, prevent it, and respond to it effectively.
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