On June 1, Alberta’s updated OHS laws will include clear definitions of harassment, including sexual and domestic violence, and increased protections from violence and harassment – a historic step towards safer workplaces throughout the province.
The new standards will better protect workers’ mental and physical health by requiring employers to develop violence and harassment prevention plans. The rules also require employers to investigate any complaints of violence or harassment brought forward, ensure appropriate action is taken to keep employees safe and stop violence and harassment at their workplace.
“Working Albertans deserve a government that has their backs and is on their side. These changes make it clear that harassment and violence, including sexual and domestic violence, have no place at work or anywhere else in our province. They also ensure employers and employees know they have a responsibility to prevent and address harassment, violence and bullying in the workplace.”
The policies will also ensure any worker who brings a complaint forward will be protected from unfair reprisal, including termination. Employers will also be required to advise workers of treatment options available to them as victims of violence and harassment and entitle workers to their wages and benefits while attending these programs.
These laws are just one step in the Alberta government’s commitment to end sexual violence. Earlier this month, Premier Rachel Notley declared May Sexual Violence Awareness Month.
“As a leader in Alberta’s energy sector, I am an advocate of enforcing protection for not just women, but all staff, particularly marginalized workers, from workplace bullying, violence and harassment. Speaking from personal experience, I believe we are finally moving in the right direction to provide safe workplaces for all individuals.”
“The Empress Ale House has always cultivated a safe and inclusive environment for staff and customers. However, this new, comprehensive legislation dealing with workplace harassment and violence will legitimize and bolster our in-house policies, particularly in areas not addressed in current government training programs within the bar industry.”
“We need to reach a place where everyone feels safe and valued in her or his place of work. The Government of Alberta’s codification of what constitutes a workplace free of violence and harassment is an important step in the right direction and we applaud the progress it represents.”
“Workplaces free of harassment and bullying generate positive, long-term benefits for employees, employers and their communities. Strong, clear legislation is a crucial tool for eliminating workplace harassment and bullying, and CPHR Alberta applauds the Alberta government’s leadership in creating safer workplaces.”
About government’s commitment to end sexual violence
Every Albertan has the right to live free from violence, and perpetrators of sexual violence violate that right. The Government of Alberta does not tolerate these abuses of power, and is taking action by bringing together 10 government ministries and community organizations to deliver a coordinated, provincewide response to address sexual violence in Alberta.
The commitment has three action areas:
- Shift the culture towards believing survivors, challenging harmful myths and building a culture of consent.
- Improve the response of Alberta’s social, health, justice and education systems to address sexual violence.
- Support individuals by funding frontline services for survivors and delivering education and prevention programs.