Workplace Violence, Harassment and Legislation

Employees should be able to work in a safe and healthy environment without fear of any kind of violence. Yet most people are aware, either from their own personal experience or from the experience of a family member, friend or colleague, that workplace violence—especially psychological harassment or bullying—is still common in many workplaces.

All across the country governments have been responding to high-profile cases and alarming statistics by imposing legislation to control this problem. For example, Quebec passed its Psychological Harassment legislation in June 2004, leading the way in North America. More recently, last year the federal government announced its Violence Prevention in the Workplace regulations for the federal public service and federally regulated industries. And this year Ontario introduced Bill 168, amending the Occupational Health and Safety Act with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace. All of these regulations require employers to develop policies and programs to prevent workplace violence or harassment, assess the risks for workplace violence, and to regularly evaluate and update their policies.

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