In Canada, the Occupational Health and Safety Act is a framework that serves as a guide for employers and employees to keep their working environment safe and fit for work. Under this act, certain requirements, standards, expectations, tools, and departments are listed and specified in accordance to their duties and responsibilities.
For working conditions, safety and health protocols focus on the physical and social environment which directly influences a business’ productivity. In the case for social safety, the act contains a section addressing violence and workplace harassment. Harassment and violence consist of unwanted advances, threats, remarks, and physical abuse where its intention is to cause harm, coerce, or instill control and fear into the victim for malicious purposes. Victims and offenders may be employers, employees, clients, supervisors, and managers who are taking advantage of their position.
In the case of any occurrences of the above mentioned situations, calling the authorities for a thorough investigation and appropriate discipline is necessary. Harassment cases may also be an issue that is under Ontario’s Human Rights Code where serious offenses may require harsher punishment.
Employers need to prioritize keeping the work environment safe in order to keep their business afloat. Employees who feel that they are working under unsafe conditions may find it hard to concentrate on their work and can suffer physical and psychological stress. Choosing to overlook claims and reports regarding threats to employee safety can lead to employee turnover and negatively affect the company’s reputation
As employers, here are a few guidelines you can follow to keep hostile-free workplace:
Establish a strict policy
Most companies have an employee handbook that outlines the rules, regulations, and policies that the company has. They contain a list of offenses ranging from the minor to those that are not to be tolerated, each with its respective disciplinary action depending on the severity of the offense. Written warnings, pay deductions, suspension, and immediate dismissal are some of the penalties given to offenders, with legal action required for criminal offenses.
Seek legal counsel
Certain company guidelines may require a lawyer to supply additional information regarding legal requirements. Legal aid can also provide assistance in helping a company match the region’s code of ethics.
Create an open communications environment
Human Resource managers are in charge of keeping employee relations stable while making sure they meet the company’s standards. Employee issues regarding harassment or violence need to be communicated to an empathetic party who can help resolve the issue with legal aid if necessary. Ideally, HR managers should also be objective but must not forget the seriousness of such offenses, especially when certain incidents happen more than once.
While these guidelines may serve as a suggestion for companies looking to establish an anti-harassment and anti-violence program, the best bet to ensure that it meets legal standards is to hire an experienced lawyer or seek advice from a Ministry of Labor employee. Keep your company’s integrity by refusing to tolerate any form of harassment and violence and setting standards for every working individual.