Government aims for harassment-free workplace with new policy

Government aims for harassment-free workplace with new policy

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has announced a broad new policy it says will make government workplaces harassment-free.

The policy was unveiled Friday by Siobhan Coady, minister responsible for the status of women, Premier Dwight Ball, and Tom Osborne, minister in charge of the human resource secretariat. 

"Violence and harassment are not acceptable in any form, at any time or in any place," said Coady. "We believe, truly believe, that any form of harassment, any form of bullying, any form of violence, is not acceptable, in any way, any shape, any form, any place."

Osborne said the policy will increase accountability for people in authority.

"Harassment in the workplace is a very serious issue, and it cannot be tolerated," he said. "The provincial government, like all employers in our province, must be committed to improving our approach on this very issue."

The policy includes:

- An employee awareness program and mandatory training;

- A 90-day timeline for all investigations;

- A single-access entry point for complaints so they're addressed consistently;

- An updated definition of sexual harassment to include gender-based discrimination or insults;

- A provision allowing witnesses, not just victims, of harassment to report incidents.

The new policy — which will come into effect June 1, replacing the current anti-harassment policy — applies to MHAs as well, and Ball said he wants the politicians to be the first ones to take the anti-harassment training.

Osborne said the new policy acts on all 15 recommendations from a November 2015 consultant's report commissioned by the then-Progressive Conservative government to review provincial policies and response to harassment complaints.