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New campaign seeks to help workers experiencing domestic, sexual violence

A new labour campaign is pressing for measures, including legal amendments, to better protect and accommodate workers who have experienced domestic or sexual violence.

A letter from the Ontario Federation of Labour to its affiliates asks for support on a number of actions including passage of Bill 26, Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016. The private members bill introduced by London West NDP MPP Peggy Sattler received rare all-party support to pass second reading in the Ontario Legislature.

If passed, Bill 26 would allow employees to take up to 10 days of paid leave per year if they or their children are victims of domestic or sexual violence. Workers would also be entitled to reasonable accommodation at work. It would further require employers to provide managers, supervisors and workers with information and instruction about domestic and sexual violence in the workplace.

A 2014 national study on domestic violence by the Canadian Labour Congress and Western University found victims reported significant impacts on job performance and work hours while some reported losing their job. Co-workers also reported feeling stressed over their colleagues’ situation.

The OFL is also asking affiliates to:

The OFL campaign coincides with International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25) and Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and Girls (December 6).

Bill 132 amendments to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act took effect September 8, 2016. Employers now have more specific obligations to address workplace harassment, including workplace sexual harassment. To assist workplaces, WHSC offers:

  • an updated three-hour Workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention Training program
  • revised compliance checklists for employers and workers
  • Workplace Harassment: from investigation to prevention, a new fact sheet to complement updated fact sheets on workplace violence and domestic violence in the workplace.

At its November 13-14 Council meeting, Society delegates adopted a new policy on domestic violence in the workplace.