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How To Keep Your Volunteer Program Compliant With The Sexual Violence & Harassment Action Plan Act

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, Yesterday
Updated: August 10, 2016
 Sexual Violence & Harassment Action Plan Act

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

 

On September 8, 2016, the Sexual Violence & Harassment Action Plan Act (also known as Bill 132) came into force. Here’s what you need to know to ensure your volunteer program is compliant and you’re protecting volunteers, employees and board members from sexual harassment and violence.

 The Act made changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act to:

  1. Expand the definition of workplace harassment to specifically include workplace sexual harassment, and
  2. Determine the obligations of employers to be more proactive in addressing harassment in the workplace

There are a few things you’ll need to do to make sure that your organization is complying with Bill 132, and they involve volunteers along with employees.

 

Policy – Including Sexual Harassment

First, your organization must review and update your Workplace Violence & Harassment Policy to include the definition of workplace sexual harassment. Here’s the definition from the Ministry of Labour:

“(a) engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or

(b) making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome;”

 

Program – Complaints, Investigations & Results

 Next, you’ll need to create a written program to implement this policy by creating mechanisms for volunteers, employees and board members to make complaints and report incidents. This program should clearly explain the process for how complaints are made and how they’ll be responded to.

 Your organization must take complaints seriously and implement an investigation and reporting process for every complaint. Failure to do so may result in the Ministry of Labour engaging a third party for investigation – with the cost falling entirely on your organization. This investigation process should resolve the complaint, and your policy should address the repercussions for individuals who have been proven to sexually harass others in your organization.

 

Training – Letting Everyone Know

 The last compliance measure is that you must train everyone – staff, volunteers and board members – about your Workplace Violence & Harassment Policy. Your training should answer these questions:

·       What is sexual harassment?

·       How will volunteers make complaints and/or report incidents?

·       What will happen after a volunteer makes a complaint?

·       How will results of the investigation be shared?

 

The Ministry of Labour has produced a Code of Practice to help you understand your requirements. Our online Legislation course can also help you understand the many obligations your organization has to ensure a compliant volunteer program. If you have any other questions about implementing this new change to Ontario law, contact Sammy at sfeilchenfeld@volunteertoronto.ca or 416-961-6888 x235.

 

Get in-person volunteer management advice from our experts!

As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy Feilchenfeld develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations.

Tags:  Ontario Government Legislation  Sexual Harassment  Sexual Violence & Harassment Action Plan Act  Volunteer Assessment  volunteer engagement  Volunteer Management  Volunteer Program Policies  Volunteer Survey 

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