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DO EMPLOYERS NEED A WORKPLACE VIOLENCE POLICY?

By Dr. Sharmi Jaggi

In 2023, the Government of Saskatchewan passed an Act to amend The Saskatchewan Employment Act (the “Amendment Act 2022”) which amends provisions of The Saskatchewan Employment Act (the “SEA”), including workplace violence policy obligations for employers.

Previously, section 3-21(1) of the SEA mandated that only employers at specified workplaces where violent situations had occurred, or were likely to occur, develop and implement a Violence Policy Statement and Prevention Plan. However, starting May 17, 2024, the amendments will extend this requirement to all provincially regulated workplaces, including those whose workers include students, volunteers, and contract workers, making it mandatory for them to have a violence policy in place.

Furthermore, before these amendments took effect, the SEA did not specifically obligate employers to conduct an investigation of any incidents of workplace violence. However, starting on May 17, 2024, all employers will be required to investigate every instance of workplace violence. The amendment also clarifies the employer’s duty and responsibility to ensure that incidents of harassment in the workplace are investigated.

In line with the requirements outlined in Part III of the SEA and s.3-26(3) of The Occupation Health and Safety Regulations, 2020, the Violence Policy must be in writing and include:

  • The employer’s commitment to reducing or eliminating risk;
  • Identification of worksites and staff positions where violent situations have occurred or are likely to occur;
  • The procedure for informing workers about the nature and extent of the risk of violence;
  • The actions the employer will take to reduce or eliminate risk;
  • The procedure for workers to report exposure to violent incidents to the employer;
  • The procedure the employer will follow to document and investigate reported violent incidents;
  • The employer’s commitment to providing a training program that includes:
    • Recognizing potentially violent situations;
    • Procedures, work practices, administrative measures, and engineering controls to minimize or eliminate risk;
    • Appropriate responses to incidents of violence, including how to seek assistance; and
    • Procedures for reporting violent incidents.

If you require assistance with drafting, implementing or reviewing workplace policies, or providing workplace violence training, W Law’s employment team has extensive experience in advising and assisting employers meet their legal obligations in this area. Please contact Sharmi Jaggi if you have any questions or for advice specific to your workplace.

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