Province brings in new rules addressing workplace violence

Violence policy and prevention plan requirement taking effect mid-May

Province brings in new rules addressing workplace violence

Employers in Saskatchewan will be required to let new hires know about the history of workplace violence in their workplace starting this month.

Amendments to the occupational health and safety provisions of The Saskatchewan Employment Act will come into force requiring all provincially regulated workplaces to have a violence policy and prevention plan in place effect starting May 17.

"Everyone has the right to feel safe when they come to work," said Don McMorris, minister of labour relations and workplace safety. "Having a violence policy and investigating all incidents is a step toward protecting workers from acts of violence."

Saskatchewan first introduced the changes to its provincial employment act in 2022.

Under the changes, the policy statement and violence prevention plan must include:

  • the employer's commitment to minimize or eliminate risk and review the policy and plan every three years
  • identification of the worksite(s) where violent situations have occurred or may occur
  • identification of staff positions that have or could be exposed to violent situations
  • the procedures to inform workers about the nature and risk of violence at their place of employment, and any information the employer has about persons who have a history of violent behaviour who could become a risk to the workers
  • the actions an employer will take to minimize or eliminate the risk of violence;
  • the procedures for reporting a violent incident to the employer
  • the procedures the employer will follow to investigate violent incidents
  • a recommendation that workers who have been exposed to violent incidents consult a physician for treatment or obtain a referral for counselling
  • a commitment to provide a training program for workers.

Workplace violence and harassment in Saskatchewan

The changes will come just months after Saskatchewan teachers went public about violent incidents they’ve faced at school, noted CTV News.

Over 35% of the province's teachers reported experiencing violence at work in the last five years, according to the report, citing data from the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF).

One substitute teacher claimed that they were struck in the head and jaw multiple times after asking students not to run in the hallways, causing a compound fracture in his jaw, according to the report.

Also, nearly half (47%) of women and 31% of men say they have experienced inappropriate sexualized behaviours in a workplace setting, according to Statistics Canada (StatCan).

And Saskatchewan is among the worst provinces for workplace harassment, noted CBC, citing data from StatCan. Overall, 43.8% of all Saskatchewan workers say they have experienced harassment at their workplace at some point, third only behind Alberta (46.0%) and British Columbia (43.9%).

Nunavut is also revamping its rules around workplace harassment as it has received hundreds of complaints over the past seven years.

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