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First Session, Thirty-Ninth Legislature

This version is based on the printed bill that was distributed in the Legislature after First Reading.   It is not the official version.   If accuracy is critical, you can obtain a copy of the printed bill from Statutory Publications or view the online bilingual version (PDF).

Bill 210

THE WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH AMENDMENT ACT (HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE)


Explanatory Note

(Assented to                                         )

WHEREAS the Government of Manitoba is an employer concerned about the well-being of its employees, and has a duty to prevent all forms of harassment in the workplace;

AND WHEREAS all other employers, in both the public and private sectors, should be under the same duty;

AND WHEREAS a worker subjected to workplace-related harassment should have the right, without fear of threat or retaliation, to disclose such harassment, and to have it investigated and remedied;

THEREFORE HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, enacts as follows:

C.C.S.M. c. W210 amended

1           The Workplace Safety and Health Act is amended by this Act.

2           Section 1 is amended by adding the following definitions:

"harassment" means

(a) any vexatious behaviour in the form of hostile, inappropriate and unwanted conduct, verbal comments, actions or gestures that affects a worker's dignity or psychological or physical integrity and that results in a harmful workplace for the worker, or

(b) the improper use of the power or authority inherent in a person's position to endanger a worker's job, undermine the worker's job performance, threaten the economic livelihood of the worker or negatively interfere in any other way with the worker's career; (« harcèlement »)

"workplace-related harassment" means harassment of a worker by his or her employer or supervisor or by another worker, whether or not the harassment occurs at the workplace. (« harcèlement lié au lieu de travail »)

3           The following is added after section 1:

Interpretation of "harassment"

1.1         For the purposes of this Act, "harassment" does not include the following:

(a) reasonable action taken in a reasonable manner by an employer or supervisor to assess, evaluate, transfer, demote, discipline or dismiss a worker;

(b) a decision by an employer or supervisor, based on reasonable grounds, not to award or provide a promotion, transfer or benefit to a worker;

(c) reasonable action taken in a reasonable manner under an Act or regulation affecting a worker.

4           Subsection 18(1) is amended

(a) in clause (bb), by adding "deal with and" before "prevent"; and

(b) by adding the following after clause (bb):

(bb.1) respecting the form and content of a statement referred to in section 42.3;

(bb.2) respecting harassment-prevention training, or additional harassment-prevention training, for the purposes of section 42.4;

(bb.3) prescribing intervals for providing additional harassment-prevention training for supervisors;

5           Subsection 37(1) is amended by striking out "or" at the end of clause (c) and adding the following after clause (c):

(c.1) section 42.7 (workplace-related harassment); or

6           The following is added after section 42.1:

HARASSMENT

Employer's duties re harassment

42.2(1)     In addition to the duties imposed under section 4, an employer must

(a) ensure that every worker is protected from workplace-related harassment; and

(b) implement policies for dealing with and preventing incidents of workplace-related harassment, including such policies as may be prescribed.

Written policies re harassment

42.2(2)     If an employer is required under section 7.4 to establish a written workplace safety and health program, the policies under clause (1)(b) must be written and be part of that program.

Duties if harassment occurs

42.2(3)     An employer who knows or ought reasonably to know that workplace-related harassment is occurring must ensure that

(a) the source of the harassment is identified and the harassment stopped; and

(b) adequate steps are taken to remedy the effects of the harassment.

Dignity at Work statement to be provided to workers

42.3        On the hiring of a worker, an employer must provide to the worker a copy of a statement that includes the following:

(a) definitions of "harassment" and "workplace-related harassment" that are substantially the same as their definitions in this Act;

(b) examples of types of behaviour and conduct that may be considered workplace-related harassment;

(c) a statement to the effect that every worker is entitled to employment free of workplace-related harassment;

(d) a statement to the effect that the employer will make every reasonable effort to ensure that no worker is subjected to workplace-related harassment;

(e) a statement setting out the disciplinary action that will be taken against a person who subjects a worker to workplace-related harassment;

(f) a statement explaining how complaints of workplace-related harassment are to be brought to the attention of the employer;

(g) a statement to the effect that the complainant's identity and the circumstances of the complaint will not be disclosed unless the disclosure is necessary for the purpose of investigating the complaint or taking disciplinary action in relation to the complaint;

(h) information on the worker's right to file a complaint under The Human Rights Code.

Harassment-prevention training to be given to supervisors

42.4(1)     On the hiring of a supervisor, an employer must provide harassment-prevention training to the supervisor.

Refresher courses

42.4(2)     An employer must, at regular intervals or at intervals as may be prescribed by regulation, provide additional harassment-prevention training to a supervisor.

Referring a complaint to an officer

42.5(1)     A worker who reasonably believes that he or she has been subjected to workplace-related harassment may file a written complaint with a safety and health officer.

Copy to employer or supervisor

42.5(2)     The worker must promptly give a copy of the complaint referred to in subsection (1) to his or her employer or supervisor.

Before filing complaint, must request that harassment stop

42.5(3)     Before filing a complaint under subsection (1), a worker must ensure that the person responsible for the harassment is requested orally or in writing, by the worker or by another person acting on behalf of the worker, to stop the harassment.

Time limit for filing complaint

42.5(4)     A complaint of workplace-related harassment must be filed within 60 days after the most recent manifestation of such behaviour.

Investigation

42.5(5)     On receiving a complaint under subsection (1), a safety and health officer must promptly investigate to determine if workplace-related harassment has occurred.

Persons who may accompany safety and health officer

42.5(6)     Any of the following persons who are present at the workplace may accompany the safety and health officer during the investigation:

(a) a committee member who represents workers;

(b) a worker safety and health representative;

(c) a worker who, because of knowledge, experience and training, is selected by a union that represents the worker who filed the complaint or, if there is no union, is selected by the workers to represent them.

Right to refuse work

42.6(1)     If a complaint of workplace-related harassment has been filed, a worker may, after giving notice to his or employer, refuse to work, if

(a) the harassment substantially interferes with the worker's ability to perform his or her work and the worker reasonably believes the harassment will continue; or

(b) the worker's health or safety is jeopardized by continuing to work.

Notice to safety and health officer

42.6(2)     A worker who refuses to work under subsection (1) must promptly notify a safety and health officer in writing.  The notice must set out the worker's reasons for refusing to work.

Copy to employer or supervisor

42.6(3)     The worker must promptly give a copy of the notice referred to in subsection (2) to his or her employer or supervisor.

Worker to remain off-site

42.6(4)     Pending the investigation and determination of the safety and health officer, an employer shall not require a worker who refuses to work under this section to return to the workplace unless

(a) the employer takes reasonable disciplinary action against, or provides harassment-prevention training to, the person or persons allegedly responsible for the harassment; or

(b) the employer makes reasonable alternative work arrangements for the worker to ensure the worker will have minimal contact with the person or persons allegedly responsible for the harassment.

Worker to be paid

42.6(5)     Until the matter is finally disposed of, a worker who does not return to the workplace under subsection (4) is deemed to be at work during the hours the worker would normally have worked, and the worker's employer must pay the worker for those hours at the regular or premium rate, whichever would otherwise apply.

Safety and health officer's order

42.7(1)      If a safety and health officer determines that workplace-related harassment has occurred, the officer must order the employer to make such arrangements at the workplace as the officer considers necessary to prevent further occurrences.

Order to be in writing and to specify time for compliance

42.7(2)     An order under subsection (1) must be in writing, and must specify whether the employer is to comply immediately or within the time set out in the order.

No hearing required before making order

42.7(3)     A safety and health officer is not required to hold or afford to an employer an opportunity for a hearing before making an order under subsection (1).

Workers' rights

42.8        Despite the provisions of any other Act, nothing in sections 42.2 to 42.7 precludes any rights, protections or remedies that a worker may have under another Act in respect of harassment.

Transitional re statements and training for existing workers and supervisors

7           Within six months after the day this Act comes into force, every employer must

(a) give every worker employed on that day a copy of the statement referred to in section 42.3; and

(b) provide harassment-prevention training to every supervisor employed on that day.

Coming into force

8           This Act comes into force on January 1, 2008.

Explanatory Note

This Bill amends The Workplace Safety and Health Act by providing workers with the right to a workplace free of harassment, and requiring employers to protect workers from workplace-related harassment.

The Bill includes provisions

  • defining workplace-related harassment;
  • requiring employers to take steps to prevent occurrences of workplace-related harassment;
  • requiring allegations of workplace-related harassment to be investigated; and
  • giving workers the right to refuse to work in certain circumstances after harassment has occurred.