Addressing violence and harassment at work: A roadmap for the new federal process

The government has passed revised regulations under the Canada Labour Code that put in place a new process for incidents of violence and harassment in federal workplaces. Here are some highlights of the new process.

1. Notification: Making the employer aware

  • Complainant or witness gives notice in writing or orally
  • Employer or designated recipient confirms receipt within 7 calendar days
  • Employer must also inform complainant about each step of the resolution process and their right to representation (by union or support person)

2. Negotiated resolution or conciliation: Talking it out

  • Parties must make efforts to resolve the issue   
  • Parties may use conciliation if acceptable to all.

Note: The use of conciliation does not rule out a formal investigation if the process is not successful.

3. Investigation: The new part

  • An investigation of the occurrence must be carried out if requested
  • Employer or designated recipient selects an investigator from a joint internal list who is agreed to by both parties
  • If an investigator cannot be mutually agreed to, one is appointed from the government’s roster, after 60 days
  • Investigator conducts their investigation

4. Completion of process

  • Investigator provides report to employer, which includes (a) a general description of what happened; (b) conclusions; and (c) recommendations to eliminate or minimize the risk of a similar occurrence
  • Employer provides investigator’s report to all parties andthe workplace committee or health and safety representative
  • Employer and workplace committee or health and safety representative jointly determine which of the recommendations will be implemented
  • All joint recommendations MUST be implemented by the employer

How it has improved

  • a “designated recipient” receives harassment and violence complaints, so workers no longer have to file a complaint to their supervisor
  • reasonable timeframes for resolution to better support the complainant and alleged perpetrator (7 days to respond to a notice of an incident, 60 days to appoint an Investigator, one year for the entire process to be wrapped up)
  • confidentiality of all parties involved, including witnesses, throughout the investigation
  • a unique process for employees victimized by a third party (for example, an employee harassed by a client)
  • employer obligations to implement recommendations and/or corrective measures in response to the investigation report

Check out a more detailed road map.


December 9, 2020