Bill C-65 places an obligation on employers to carry out workplace risk assessments within their organization. A workplace risk assessment is a process of information gathering that seeks to find the root cause of issues or conflicts that may increase the risk of harassment and violence in the workplace. These assessments should consider the workplace culture, practices and behaviours found in each specific workplace and the related roles and positions. There are many methods for gathering information and the selection of which methods to use is very fact specific. Information may be gathered by surveying employees, examining past assessments and reports, interviewing employees, or conducting focus groups etc.

Workplace risk assessments are meant to provide the employer with general information, themes, and observations rather than disclosing specific factual situations of an individual employee. If an individual employee is facing harassment and violence, this should be dealt with under a workplace investigation, mediation or conciliation, rather than a workplace assessment. Workplace assessments provide general organizational recommendations, not individual remedies or outcomes.

After collecting information through the various methods available, a report must be drafted that outlines all the findings and risk factors. This report should also include recommendations to address the specific risk factors that have been discovered. An employer then has the obligation to implement those recommendations to decrease the risk of harassment and violence in each specific workplace. These implementations of the recommendations must be completed within 6 months of the risk factors being identified.

Workplace risk assessments can be completed internally by employers with the applicable partner, or a third-party such as the SDLaw legal team can be retained to complete the workplace risk assessment. Using a third party will ensure more accurate and open information from employees, but is not required.

The overall process can be quite a lengthy process and there are specific deadlines that employers need to meet. The workplace risk assessments must be completed in time to be included in the employer's mandatory policy on workplace harassment and violence prevention that needs to be in place on or before December 31st, 2021. If the employer fails to comply with the requirements under Bill C-65, fines can accumulate each day for each specific contravention for a total of up to $250,000.00. Employers must keep good records reflecting all aspects of the changes required under Bill C-65 to ensure they have evidence of compliance if their organization is audited. Employers must also submit annual reports to the Ministry demonstrating the status of the workplace as it relates to the harassment and violence prevention required under Bill C-65.

To avoid costly consequences, and ensure that workplace risk assessments are done properly to be of the most benefit for your organization, it is wise to seek legal help from employment lawyers who have knowledge of this area of the law. At SD Law, we have certified lawyers who can conduct these workplace risk assessments for your organization, or in the alternative can guide you while you are conducting the workplace risk assessment internally. Reach out to us today at (705) 268-6492 for a consultation.