On June 18, 2010, the Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health
Amendment Act was amended to increase the maximum fines that
may be imposed for contravening the Act. Specifically, the
fine for a first offence has been increased to $250,000 from
$150,000, and the fine for a second or subsequent offence has
increased to $500,000 from $300,000.
In addition, employers in Manitoba should be aware of a proposed
Bill that contains significant amendments to the Workplace
Safety and Health Act which will impose new obligations on
employers with respect to workplace violence and harassment.
Bill 219, the Workplace Safety and Health Amendment Act
(Harassment and Violence in the Workplace), was originally
scheduled to come into force on January 1, 2011. Although this Bill
has not yet made its way through the Manitoba Legislature and will
not be coming into effect in the New Year as scheduled, it contains
significant amendments that employers should be aware of in light
of the increased awareness surrounding harassment and violence in
Main Features of Bill 219:
Employers must prepare written policies dealing with workplace
violence and harassment. Workers must be trained on these policies,
which must be posted in workplaces with more than twenty workers
and reviewed by the employer annually.
Employers are required to develop and maintain a workplace
safety and health program that includes procedures for reporting,
investigating and dealing with incidents of workplace-related
harassment or workplace violence.
Employers will be required to assess the risk of workplace
violence that may arise due to the nature of the workplace, the
type of work or the conditions of work, and must advise workers of
the results of the assessment. The employer will also be required
to provide any written copies of the assessment on request, or must
advise workers how to obtain copies.
Employers will be required to take reasonable precautions to
protect workers from domestic violence in situations where the
employer is aware, or ought to be aware, that domestic violence is
likely to expose a worker to harassment or physical injury in the
Bill 219 clarifies that workers may refuse to work if: (i) the
harassment or workplace violence substantially interferes with the
worker's ability to perform his or her work and the worker
reasonably believes the harassment or workplace violence will
continue; or (ii) the worker's health or safety is jeopardized
by continuing to work.
Within six months of Bill 219 coming into effect, every
employer will be required to provide training on how to prevent
workplace-related harassment and workplace violence to every
supervisor employed by the employer.
Upon hiring a new worker, an employer will be required provide
to the worker a copy of a Dignity at Work Statement that
includes the following: (a) definitions of "harassment,
"workplace-related harassment" and "workplace
violence"; (b) examples of the types of behaviour or conduct
that may be considered workplace-related harassment or workplace
violence; (c) five prescribed statements relating to employee
rights and employer obligations; and (d) information on the
worker's right to file a complaint under the Manitoba Human
Rights Code. Employers will also be required to provide
current workers with a copy of the Dignity at Work
Statement within six months after the day Bill 219 comes into
What Should Employers Do?
In light of the proposed amendments under Bill 219, employers
are advised to review their current policies and procedures and
consider how to address issues of violence and harassment in the
workplace. For example, employers should:
create written workplace violence and harassment policies, and
train employees and all supervisors on such policies;
undertake risk assessments to determine the possibility or
prevalence of workplace violence or harassment;
disclose the results of workplace violence assessments to
workers and provide copies of any written assessments;
advise employees how to report instances or risks of workplace
violence and harassment;
ensure that proper security measures are in place at the
workplace to protect workers from workplace violence or
keep detailed records of any workplace violence or harassment,
investigation or work refusal; and
considering developing a Dignity at Work Statement in
accordance with the recommendations in Bill 219 and
provide it to all workers.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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