In 2021, the federal government introduced new laws and regulations on workplace violence and harassment. The changes apply to federally regulated workers. The intent of these changes was to empower people who have experienced violence and harassment in the workplace. The legislation outlines a new complaint process that prohibits the health and safety committee from receiving complaints or participating in the resolution processes.
When violence or harassment is perpetrated by an employee of an organization (including supervisors or higher), the new regulations lay out a very specific complaint process:
- Report the violence or harassment to your supervisor or designated recipient (the person your employer has designated to deal with violence and harassment complaints). The complaint can be verbal or written. Reports can be made anonymously or by a witness, but must include the name of the target of violence or harassment (the principal party).
- After a report is made, the employer must contact the principal party within 7 days to acknowledge the complaint, provide the employer policy, explain the resolution process, and inform the principal party that they can have a representative support them throughout the process.
- Within 45 days, the employer, the principal party, and, potentially, the alleged perpetrator of violence or harassment (the responding party) must start a joint process to see if the complaint can be resolved. This is called negotiated resolution.
- The process may lead to conciliation (mediation) or an investigation. An investigation can take place at the same time as conciliation.
- If the principal party asks for an investigation, the employer must ensure an investigator is appointed within 60 days. Depending on your workplace, you may be able to request an external investigator – ask your union.
- The resolution process should be completed within one year from when the complaint was filed.
Contact your union - but not your health and safety committee!
The new law prohibits the health and safety committee from receiving or investigating reported violence or harassment. However, you can and should approach your local union executive with any questions or concerns about the reporting process. And remember – whether you are the principal party or the responding party in a complaint, the employer must ensure that you are provided the opportunity to have a representative throughout the process. This can include a union representative.
What if there are problems with the way an employer is handling a complaint?
If you are concerned with your employer’s treatment of a complaint, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your union executive as a first course of action.
You can also contact the federal regulator at:
NC-HVS-HSV-GD@labour-travail.gc.ca or Tel: 1-800-641-4049
CUPE’s full guide on the new federal violence and harassment legislation (Bill C-65)
CUPE’s federal sector violence and harassment complaints wallet cards