Harassment and Violence in the Workplace

In Alberta, employers are responsible for providing employees with a safe and healthy workplace. This means employees must be protected from workplace hazards, including harassment and violence. Do you know what obligations you have as an employer under Occupational Health and Safety legislation?

What is workplace harassment and violence?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act considers harassment and violence to be workplace hazards. In the Act, harassment is defined as unwelcome or objectionable conduct that negatively impacts a worker or their health and safety. This can include bullying, sexual advances or any behaviour that the perpetrator ought to reasonably know would cause offense or humiliation.

Violence is defined as an action or attempt to cause physical or psychological harm to a person at the workplace or in a work-related environment. This definition includes threats and domestic sexual violence that happens in the workplace.

Employer Responsibility

Employers must do what is reasonably possible to protect their workers from hazards in the workplace. It is their duty to define harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and domestic violence, to investigate when complaints are made and to take disciplinary action when necessary.

Part of employers’ obligations is their duty to educate workers on how to recognize signs of danger, respond in these situations and report any incidents. If an employee experiences violence or harassment, employers are required to advise them on their treatment options and if they seek treatment during work hours, employers must continue providing them their regular wages and benefits.

Preventative Measures

Employers must also develop separate violence and harassments prevention plans, which they must review at least once every 3 years. The plans must include a written prevention policy and prevention procedures that must be easily accessible to workers in paper or electronic formats.

Hazard assessments are also an important factor in eliminating risk in the workplace. These must involve, if available, a joint work site health and safety committee or a health and safety representative.

Need help drafting a harassment and violence policy?

Ask our advisors for help. We can assist you in developing prevention policies and programs by providing you with documentation that is tailored to your unique business needs. 1 (888) 207-0657.