The government of New Brunswick has passed legislation to protect workers from violence and harassment. The regulatory changes will come into force on April 1 to give employers time to complete risk assessments and put policies and procedures into place, said the government. It was originally thought that the regulations would be in effect on Sept. 1 of this year.
Under the new regulatory changes, harassment and violence are defined as workplace hazards that affect health and safety. Sexual violence and harassment, domestic violence and intimate partner violence are also included.
“These regulatory changes will ensure employees are protected from a wider range of workplace hazards,” said Health Minister Benoît Bourque. “The additional time before the regulations take effect will give employers time to put proper measures in place to protect employees.”
The new regulations require all employers to develop and implement a written code of practice for preventing harassment. The regulations outline the elements that must be included.
“The implementation of these regulations is an important first step in what we see as a long-term strategy to ensure all workers have safer workplaces,” said Paula Doucet, president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union (NBNU). “NBNU has been advocating for these amendments for over a decade and to see them enacted by government is a huge win, not only for registered nurses, but all workers in this province.”
Under the new regulations, employers are required to perform a risk assessment analyzing the likelihood of violence in their workplace. Following this risk assessment, the requirements differ for different workplaces. For employers with 20 or more employees, they must develop a code of practice on managing violence in their workplace.
Regardless of the number of employees, employers operating a business in the following industries must also develop a code of practice related to workplace violence:
•government and third-party service providers under contract to government
•health care providers
•education and child care providers
•police and first responders
•financial service providers
•alcohol and cannabis sales
•taxis and public transportation
•home support services
•crisis counselling and intervention service providers.
Employers who do not fit into either of the two categories above may still need to develop and implement a code of practice on violence. This is determined by the results of the violence risk assessment, the government said.
New Brunswick is the last Canadian province to address workplace violence or harassment in its occupational health and safety legislation.
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