What do you need to know? – It’s Mandatory.

Did you know that workplace sexual harassment training is mandatory in Ontario? Employers will be compliant with Ontario’s new sexual harassment training requirements if employees complete Ryley Learning’s animated eLearning course and review their workplace policies.

As of September 2016, Ontario employers of any size must have a workplace sexual harassment “program” that includes a policy, complaints and investigation procedures, and training. These duties are set out in Part III.0.1 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1(“OHSA”)

The Ministry of Labour’s Code of Practice to Address Workplace Harassment states that employers must provide employees with instruction that:

  • sets out what conduct is considered workplace harassment, including workplace sexual harassment, and how to recognize it;
  • defines, describes, and gives examples of workplace sexual harassment.
  • Reviews the contents of the workplace policy that informs employees
    • how and to whom to report an incident of workplace harassment;
    • how the employer will investigate and deal with an incident or complaint of workplace harassment.

The Code of Practice to Address Workplace Harassment also includes policy and investigations templates to help employers meet their workplace harassment legal responsibilities. However, there are no “free” training modules or templates offered by the Ontario government.

OHSA sets out the duties of employers, whereas the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19 (“the Code”) sets out the rights of employees to be free of Code-based harassment in the workplace. Sections 7(2) and 7(3) of the Code provide rights specific to freedom from sexual harassment.

Employers should be mindful of potential penalties. Individual or corporate violations of OHSA can result in substantial fines. Under the Code, a court or tribunal may order individuals and/or corporations to pay monetary damages to a party who has been sexually harassed in the workplace. Having provided workplace training may limit an organization’s liability if sexual harassment is found to have occurred by a court or tribunal.”