Quality management system (QMS) information
|Area of management
|Original date of issue
Every 3 years as required
|Date of last review
Senior Executive Committee (SEC)
|SEC has issued this policy, and is also responsible for approving amendments as required.
|The Secretary General has the accountability for policy adherence.
Senior Ethics Officer
The Senior Ethics Officer has the responsibility to ensure consistent application and operational execution of the policy.
National Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH)
|In accordance with the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations, this Policy has been jointly developed with the NRC’s applicable partner, NCOSH
1.1 This Policy replaces the NRC Policy on Harassment Prevention and Conflict Resolution (2016) and the NRC Directive on Workplace Violence Prevention(2010).
1.2 Bill C-65, an Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), modified the framework under the Canada Labour Code (the Code), Part II-Occupational Health and Safety, for the prevention of harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, in workplaces under federal jurisdiction, which includes the NRC.
1.3 In accordance with the Code, federally regulated employers must protect the health and safety of their employees.
1.4 The Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations (the Regulations), enacted pursuant to the Code, stipulate that an employer and the applicable partner must jointly develop a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy and that policy must contain elements outlined in Section 10(1)(2) of the Regulations. The responsibilities of the employer and the applicable partner under the Policy are further outlined in Section 5 of this Policy.
1.5 The framework established by Bill C-65 has 3 main pillars:
- 1.5.1 preventing incidents of harassment and violence from occurring
- 1.5.2 responding effectively to these incidents when they occur
- 1.5.3 supporting employees who have been subjected to harassment and violence, as well as the employer, in the process
1.6 Other governing legislation, standards and norms, including but not limited to, the NRC Code of conduct and the Canadian Human Rights Act, also provide protection to NRC employees, and place obligations on the NRC, as the employer, to ensure that all NRC employees enjoy a workplace free from all forms of harassment and violence and other forms of inappropriate conduct and behaviour that are not conducive to a respectful workplace.
1.7 This Policy reflects developments since the adoption of the NRC Policy on Harassment Prevention and Conflict Resolution (2016) and the NRC Directive on Workplace Violence Prevention (2010). Most notably, the Regulations bring change to the manner in which workplace harassment and violence prevention will be handled at the NRC.
1.8 Instead of 2 separate definitions and processes, one for workplace harassment and one for workplace violence, there is now one single definition and process at the NRC, pursuant to the Regulations, and governed by this Policy, to prevent, address and resolve potential situations of harassment and violence.
1.9 This Policy should be read in conjunction with the forthcoming NRC Directive on Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention and Resolution (the Directive) [forthcoming], the NRC Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Policy, the NRC Code of conduct, the Canada Labour Code, the Regulations, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the National Joint Council (NJC) OHS Directive, where appropriate.
1.10 This Policy has been written with a view toward ensuring compatibility with the related tools and guidance documentation prepared by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) and the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) Labour Program. Further, a supporting NRC Directive and other tools [forthcoming] will be co-developed with NCOSH and in consultation with the bargaining agents. These will be updated from time to time, will complement the Policy, and offer additional interpretation and guidance for all NRC employees and managers.
2.1 This Policy applies to NRC employees, in the context of their official duties, either in the workplace or at any location or any event related to work, which may or may not be controlled by the NRC, including but not limited to:
- while working remotely/from home
- while on travel status
- at a conference where the attendance is sponsored by the NRC or where the employee is an official representative of the NRC
- at NRC-sponsored training activities/information sessions
- at NRC-sponsored events, including social events
- when using communication technologies when there is a connection to the workplace or employment conditions
2.2 The application of this Policy extends to behaviour by individuals working on NRC premises (but who are not NRC employees), those who collaborate with NRC employees (but who are not NRC employees), and to clients of the NRC. Collectively, this group is also known at the NRC as “persons granted access”. Any occurrences of harassment and violence involving such individuals, when they also involve NRC employees, will be addressed in accordance with the spirit and intent of this Policy.
3. Mission statement
3.1 Guided by its mandate, vision, and mission, the NRC values an equitable, diverse, inclusive, and respectful workplace. In this context, the NRC is committed to providing a safe, healthy and respectful workplace, free from all forms of harassment and violence for all of its employees.
3.2 NRC values and the values of the public sector, as expressed in the NRC Code of conduct, uphold the practice of respect, fairness and courtesy and the importance of demonstrating human dignity within professional relationships. Success in the practice of these values is expected to foster a safe and healthy workplace with particular consideration of the impact on employees’ mental and physical health. All NRC employees have the right to be treated fairly and respectfully in their workplace and also have the responsibility to treat others in a manner that respects individual differences and contributes to a harassment- and violence-free workplace.
3.3 The NRC recognizes that many different potential situations, on a continuum of inappropriate behaviours, may represent harassment and violence. In a complex and demanding work environment that brings together diverse people and where collaboration is essential to success, it is vital to ensure that the NRC’s organizational culture is one in which the awareness and practice of effective communication and interpersonal skills along with civility, equity, diversity, inclusion, and respect are the norm. The NRC views the ongoing effort to demonstrate respect, inclusivity, and civility as everyone's collective responsibility at the NRC. The NRC recognizes further that, when harassment and violence occur, and are allowed to persist, they have adverse effects on the health, safety and engagement of employees as well as the quality of their work. Occurrences of harassment and violence may also create a poisoned, or toxic, work environment.
4. Objectives and expected results
4.1 The objectives of this Policy are:
- 4.1.1 to provide an overall harassment and violence prevention and resolution framework for all NRC employees, managers and supervisors
- 4.1.2 to create the foundation and tools to offer wide-ranging support for a safe and respectful workplace
- 4.1.3 to outline the procedures to be followed to address potential situations of harassment and violence
4.2 This Policy aims to create a fair, transparent and comprehensive process to prevent workplace harassment and violence from happening, respond to situations in which harassment or violence have occurred, and support employees who have been subjected to harassment and violence.
4.3 No employee will be penalized, subject to reprisals, reprimanded, or in any way criticized when acting in good faith while following this Policy and the supporting procedures for addressing situations involving occurrences of harassment and violence. This Policy does not prevent an employee from exercising their rights under the Code, the applicable Collective Agreement, any applicable legislation or any other available recourse mechanism.
4.4 The requirements of the Code and the Regulations regarding harassment and violence prevention in the workplace will be respected through the implementation of this Policy. These legislative instruments require every employer to provide employees with a safe, healthy, harassment- and violence-free work environment and to dedicate sufficient attention, resources and time to address internal and external risk factors, defined further below in Section 7, that contribute to workplace harassment and violence.
4.5 Informal conflict resolution, training, and awareness about internal and external risk factors for harassment and violence will be emphasized through the implementation of this Policy. Prevention and informal conflict resolution approaches can offer alternatives to formal processes. While the course of action in a situation of workplace conflict remains up to each individual employee, whenever it would be safe and appropriate to do, employees are encouraged to consider exploring alternative dispute resolution options available to them.
4.6 To the extent possible, given the purpose of the Regulations and this Policy, occurrences of potential harassment and violence will be resolved by identifying the measures to be put in place to prevent a recurrence of the offending conduct. However, it is understood that, in some circumstances, discipline may be an appropriate preventive tool at the disposal of the NRC to restore the workplace following occurrences of harassment and violence, as long as procedural fairness rights have been respected throughout the resolution process.
4.7 This Policy anticipates the following results:
- 4.7.1 Awareness and prevention: The expectation of respect for people, as stated in the NRC Code of conduct and in this Policy, is clear and known to employees. Employees and managers demonstrate a high level of respect for people and they are supported effectively when matters related to workplace harassment and violence arise.
- 4.7.2 Training: Employees and managers receive training about harassment and violence, prevention strategies, the harassment and violence resolution process, and their right to a harassment and violence-free workplace. Those with specific responsibilities related to the implementation of this Policy, as detailed in Section 5: Requirements, receive necessary additional training and support to enable them to fulfill their roles.
- 4.7.3 Resolution processes (informal and formal): Employees can raise difficult issues without fear of reprisal and are provided with the means for effective, timely, and confidential resolution of these issues.
- 4.7.4 Informal resolution: Employees are provided with opportunities to access informal resolution resources when appropriate, and they are supported by the Ombudsperson, the Senior Ethics Officer, and the NRC in actively resolving difficult issues.
- 4.7.5 Formal resolution: Employees know in advance how situations of potential harassment and violence will be addressed and that the formal process will be undertaken promptly, with sensitivity, competence, discretion, and rigour.
- 4.7.6 Restoration: Parties involved and colleagues (where appropriate) are supported in returning to a work environment that is fair and respectful.
5.1 The ultimate responsibility and authority for applying this Policy rests with the President of the NRC, supported by the Secretary General. The Senior Ethics Officer, formally delegated by the President, is responsible for administering this Policy and reporting to the President on an annual basis or upon request. However, every employee within the NRC has a role to play to prevent workplace harassment and violence.
5.2 The following list of roles and responsibilities is non-exhaustive. Additional details are provided in the Directive [forthcoming] created by the NRC to provide guidance and interpretation on the application of this Policy.
5.3 The President, supported by the Secretary General is responsible for:
- 5.3.1 designating an official for the application of the Policy and for receiving notices of occurrence , who at the NRC is the Senior Ethics Officer
- 5.3.2 ensuring that the Senior Ethics Officer has the required resources to undertake these designated responsibilities
- 5.3.3 reporting to the Minister on or before 1 March of each year
5.4 The Senior Ethics Officer is responsible for:
- 5.4.1 preventing occurrences of harassment and violence and promoting a harassment and violence-free workplace
- 5.4.2 ensuring that all employees are aware of this Policy and their responsibilities outlined herein and that the Policy is readily available
- 5.4.3 providing training as detailed in Section 14
- 5.4.4 carrying out an NRC-wide workplace assessment, jointly with NCOSH as the applicable partner, consisting of the identification of hazards and risks related to harassment and violence in the workplace. The workplace assessment shall be reviewed and updated if appropriate at minimum once every three (3) years, in addition to those circumstances specified in this Policy.
- 5.4.5 implementing preventive measures to eliminate or minimize the risks related to workplace harassment and violence, jointly with NCOSH as the applicable partner, and undertaking continual monitoring of the effectiveness of those preventative measures
- 5.4.6 developing, in consultation with NCOSH as the applicable partner, a list of qualified investigators
- 5.4.7 acting as designated recipient to whom notification of a harassment and violence occurrence may be given
- 5.4.8 responding to and resolving all workplace harassment and violence occurrences including addressing issues and behaviours which may not yet meet the threshold of harassment and violence
- 5.4.9 supporting employees subjected to workplace harassment and violence; and
- 5.4.10 maintaining records relating to harassment and violence prevention and resolution of occurrences and ensuring reporting requirements are fulfilled
5.5 As designated recipient, the Senior Ethics Officer is responsible for:
- 5.5.1 receiving notice of an occurrence, either in writing or verbally
- 5.5.2 conducting an initial review of every notice of an occurrence
- 5.5.3 communicating with the principal party, a witness who has provided a notice of an occurrence, and the responding party
- 5.5.4 making every reasonable effort to resolve an occurrence for which notice is provided, including review with the principal party to determine whether the notice describes an action, conduct or comment that constitutes harassment and violence
- 5.5.5 notifying the principal and responding parties that an investigation is to be carried out
- 5.5.6 selecting an investigator
- 5.5.7 providing the investigator with all information relevant to the investigation
5.6 The NRC National Committee on Occupational Health and Safety (NCOSH), as the applicable partner, is responsible for:
- 5.6.1 co-developing this Policy with the Senior Ethics Officer
- 5.6.2 collaborating with the Senior Ethics Officer to update this Policy as required
- 5.6.3 collaborating with the Senior Ethics Officer to carry out an NRC-wide workplace assessment, when required, to identify risk factors relating to workplace harassment and violence and consider themes arising from investigation recommendations
- 5.6.4 collaborating with the Senior Ethics Officer to monitor this Policy’s effectiveness
- 5.6.5 collaborating with the Senior Ethics Officer on the development of a list of qualified investigators
- 5.6.6 participating in the review and update of the workplace assessment every three (3) years, or earlier if necessary
- 5.6.7 collaborating with the Senior Ethics Officer on the development and implementation of training on workplace harassment and violence and reviewing its effectiveness at least once every three (3) years
5.7 All managers and supervisors are responsible for:
- 5.7.1 understanding this Policy, its associated Directive [forthcoming] and disseminating its content to their employees
- 5.7.2 ensuring that all employees receive training on workplace harassment and violence, as delivered by the Senior Ethics Officer, within three (3) months after the day on which their employment begins, and again once every three (3) years
- 5.7.3 working actively to foster a work environment that is free from all forms of inappropriate behaviour, including risk factors that are known to cause harassment and violence
- 5.7.4 promoting the early resolution of conflicts and seeking advice from the Ombudsperson or the Senior Ethics Officer on available informal and formal conflict resolution resources
- 5.7.5 dealing diligently, immediately and consistently with any apparent inappropriate behaviour that comes to their attention, whether or not a notice of occurrence has been formally submitted
- 5.7.6 participating in workplace assessments and training developed for managers and supervisors
- 5.7.7 protecting persons involved in an informal or a formal resolution process from reprisal from any source
- 5.7.8 if appropriate, assisting in restoring the workplace, pursuant to any recommendations as determined by the Senior Ethics Officer, in collaboration with COSH, following an investigation
5.8 All NRC employees are responsible for:
- 5.8.1 treating everyone in the workplace with respect and adhering to the expected behaviours found in the NRC Code of conduct, including the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector
- 5.8.2 working actively and collaboratively to create a respectful workplace environment for all employees
- 5.8.3 where possible, seeking the assistance of NRC’s Ombudsperson or NRC’s informal conflict resolution resources, or a manager or supervisor, to address potential situations of harassment and violence
- 5.8.4 reporting potential situations of harassment and violence, experienced or observed, to the Senior Ethics Officer
- 5.8.5 reporting risk factors that may contribute to workplace harassment and violence to the Senior Ethics Officer, a manager or supervisor, Committees on Occupational Health and Safety (COSH), Human Resources Generalist, Health, Safety and Environment representative, or others as appropriate
- 5.8.6 co-operating in the resolution of workplace harassment and violence occurrences
- 5.8.7 attending training as defined in this Policy and as delivered by the Senior Ethics Officer, within three (3) months after the day on which their employment begins, and again once every three (3) years
5.9 NRC local Committees on Occupational Health and Safety (COSH) are responsible for:
- 5.9.1 working with the Senior Ethics Officer, with support from NRC Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Advisors, monitoring local risk factors for violence and harassment, and making recommendations to the Senior Ethics Officer that may fall under the scope of this Policy
- 5.9.2 collaborating with the Senior Ethics Officer to review, and, if necessary, update the results of a workplace assessment to identify workplace risk factors, in cases where the principal party ends the resolution process before the matter has been resolved, or where the responding party is neither an employee nor the employer
- 184.108.40.206 The purpose of this review by the COSH is to consider the circumstances of the incident and, if necessary, recommend updates to the workplace assessment to the Senior Ethics Officer.
- 5.9.3 Upon completion of an investigation, the COSH will review and, jointly with the Senior Ethics Officer, determine which of the recommendations set out in the report will be implemented.
5.10 Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Branch representatives, including HSE Advisors, are responsible for:
- 5.10.1 attending specialized training as delivered by the Senior Ethics Officer
- 5.10.2 providing preliminary guidance to COSH in response to questions or concerns regarding COSH responsibilities under this Policy
- 5.10.3 participating with COSH in reviewing and updating workplace assessments
- 5.10.4 providing support to COSH in the review and considerations of recommendations set out in investigation reports
5.11 NRC Human Resources Branch representatives, including Human Resources Generalists and Labour Relations Advisors, are resources for employees and managers who encounter or witness behaviours that may be inappropriate. Within the scope of their roles, they are expected to support early resolution by engaging with appropriate partners and to support managers in the restoration of the workplace.
5.12 The NRC Ombudsperson does not have a formal role in the Regulations; however, the Ombudsperson’s mandate is aligned with the Policy’s objectives and supports the Policy as follows:
- 5.12.1 The Ombudsperson maintains their responsibility to:
- 220.127.116.11 uphold the ethical principles of impartiality, confidentiality, informality and independence
- 18.104.22.168 offer a safe space where all employees, regardless of level, can raise work-related issues in confidence and explore options for resolution
- 22.214.171.124 complement and not replace, any formal channels. Engagement of the Ombudsperson is voluntary and is not a step in any formal process; refer individuals to the Senior Ethics Officer where official notice can be made
- 126.96.36.199 propose options to senior management to address systemic issues
- 5.12.2 The Ombudsperson does not:
- 188.8.131.52 take an active role in any formal procedure, including investigations
- 184.108.40.206 act as a representative of the employer or of employees. Communication made to the Ombudsperson does not constitute notice to the NRC of an occurrence
Workplace harassment and violence – means any action, conduct or comment, including of a sexual nature, that can reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee, including any prescribed action, conduct or comment.
Applicable partner – means the NRC National Committee on Occupational Health and Safety (NCOSH), as required by Section 2 of the Regulations, and is also known as the “policy committee” under the Canada Labour Code.
Client – means any legal entity with which the NRC has or seeks a legal agreement pertaining to the conduct of research, provision of technical services, or related activities, or access to facilities provided at or by the NRC.
Collaborator – individuals external to the NRC who work jointly with NRC employees on projects or activities.
Conciliation – means a form of voluntary informal conflict resolution, sometimes referred to as “mediation” or “facilitated discussion”, and designed to resolve differences between and among people.
Cyberbullying – means the use of communication technologies such as the Internet and social media, to intimidate, put-down, spread rumours or make fun of others.
Designated recipient – means the Senior Ethics Officer or any other senior official to whom the President may delegate the authority for receiving notices of occurrences and fulfilling the other required functions of the position defined in this Policy and the Regulations.
Employee – to be interpreted broadly to cover all employees within the NRC, including supplementary workers, students and non-salaried workers.
Employer – means the NRC, represented by the President, and including its Divisions, Research Centres, Branches, and the Industrial Research Assistance Program.
Family or domestic violence – means the use of abusive behaviour to control and/or harm a member of their family, or someone with whom they have an intimate relationship.
Informal conflict resolution (ICR) – is a systematic approach to managing and resolving conflicts in the workplace quickly and constructively. An ICR process supports a culture of effective conflict management that emphasizes honest discussion and collaborative problem solving.
Negotiated resolution - a form of informal resolution in which the principal party meets (either virtually or in-person) with the Senior Ethics Officer to:
- discuss the occurrence
- clarify the information that was submitted in the notice of an occurrence, and
- attempt to reach resolution
Occurrence - means an occurrence of harassment and violence in the workplace. For the purpose of this Policy, the NRC considers an occurrence to be alleged until the completion of the resolution process.
Principal party - means an employee or employer who is the object of an occurrence.
Reprisal - a negative action or threat that occurs because an employee followed policy or raised an issue.
Responding party - means the person who is alleged to have been responsible for the occurrence in a notice of an occurrence.
Risk factors – means internal, external or systemic elements in the workplace have the potential of causing offence, injury, illness, or damage to NRC employees.
Witness - means a person who witnessed an occurrence or is informed of an occurrence by the principal party or responding party.
Workplace - means any place where an employee is engaged in work for the NRC.
Workplace assessment – means a review carried out by the employer, jointly with the applicable partner, to identify risk factors and develop and implementation plan of preventive measures.
Workplace committee – refers to NRC’s local Committees of Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), which fulfill the role of “workplace committee” as required by Section 2 of the Regulations.
7. Risk factors
7.1 Identifying and assessing the internal and external factors that may contribute to workplace harassment and violence and developing and implementing preventive measures are important steps in preventing workplace harassment and violence from occurring. The risk factors may vary based on the nature of one’s specific workplace and the type and conditions of work.
7.2 In support of the implementation of the Regulations, TBS and the ESDC Labour Program have identified the following internal and external risk factors that are known to contribute to situations of harassment and violence. Not all of these apply to the NRC context:
- 7.2.1 Internal risk factors: Internal risk factors refer to specific elements of the workplace that can lead to harassment and violence. These can be related to the workplace environment, to the type of work, and to the conditions of work.
- 220.127.116.11 Risk factors related to workplace environment include, but are not limited to:
- number of workers
- workplace layout and design
- lighting and security provisions
- hours of operation
- lack of diversity
- monotonous work
- lack of respect for individual differences
- workplace with power disparities
- 18.104.22.168 Risk factors related to type of work include, but are not limited to:
- dealing with the general public
- money transactions
- providing security or regulatory enforcement services
- confrontational work
- 22.214.171.124 Risk factors related to the conditions of work include, but are not limited to:
- hours of work
- work location
- isolation / working alone
- 126.96.36.199 Risk factors related to workplace environment include, but are not limited to:
- 7.2.2 External risk factors: External risk factors refer to circumstances external to the workplace that could give rise to harassment and violence in the workplace. These include but are not limited to: family violence, client or external collaborator characteristics, and cyberbullying.
- 188.8.131.52 Family violence/domestic violence: Family violence can put employees at a greater risk of harassment and violence. This can include instances of a family member or (ex)partner:
- threatening an employee or co-workers either verbally or over the phone/email
- stalking the employee
- verbally abusing the employee or co-workers
- destroying the employee or organization’s property
- physically harming the employee and/or co-workers
- 184.108.40.206 Client or External Collaborator Characteristics: Working with clients or external collaborators that exhibit certain characteristics can put employees at greater risk of harassment and violence. This can include working with:
- members of the public (e.g., clients or their relatives or personal acquaintances) who are frustrated with the system, in shock, or angry who may lash out at the closest person
- clients who have a history of violence
- clients who are unable to control their behaviour because of mental health conditions, emotional disorders, or a head injury
- clients who have racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist or otherwise discriminatory attitudes and behaviour
- clients who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- 220.127.116.11 Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying can put employees at a greater risk of harassment and violence and can itself be a form of harassment and violence. This can include instances of a family member, (ex)partner, or acquaintance:
- sending mean or threatening emails or text/instant messages to employee or co-workers
- posting embarrassing photos of employee or co-workers online
- creating a website to make fun of employee or co-workers
- pretending to be employee by using their name
- tricking employee into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to co-workers or others
- 18.104.22.168 Family violence/domestic violence: Family violence can put employees at a greater risk of harassment and violence. This can include instances of a family member or (ex)partner:
- 7.2.3 Based on the NRC Workplace Assessment conducted by the Senior Ethics Officer, in collaboration with NCOSH, pursuant to the Regulations, the following additional risk factors have been identified based on the specific workplace culture and realities at the NRC:
- 22.214.171.124 Uneven competence of managers and employees to recognize and address inappropriate behaviours and emerging signs of conflict that could lead to harassment and violence, combined with insufficient institutional systems and supports to assist in this, and encourage and reward competence.
- 126.96.36.199 Throughout the reward structure and systems of the NRC, a lack of consideration of work/life balance, and an absence of attention to and mitigation of the impact of workload stress on the health of employees, and further, the compounding effects of workload stress on home life.
- 188.8.131.52 Uneven understanding and appreciation of the importance of respectful norms of behaviour to individual and organizational wellness. As a corollary of this, a lack of incentives for employees and managers to model effective leadership and respectful behaviour.
- 184.108.40.206 Lack of appreciation of how the use of formal and informal power, inherent in the organization’s structure and systems given the nature of the work, including power accruing from research results, can impact the work environment and personal wellness of individuals.
- 220.127.116.11 Lack of appreciation for the positive power of equity, diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of individual differences in building a vibrant, productive, and safe organization.
- 18.104.22.168 Lack of appreciation and support for employees and managers dealing with difficult situations involving external clients or other external collaborators that result in unnecessary stress.
7.3 The NRC commits to putting in place appropriate preventive measures to ensure that these known risk factors are mitigated to the extent possible.
8. Summary of the resolution process
8.1 Informal resolution: In all situations where it would be safe and appropriate to do so, the NRC encourages employees to attempt to resolve potential situations of harassment and violence, and other forms of inappropriate conduct, as early as possible. Employees have access to the ombudsperson and informal conflict resolution practitioners to assist in the resolution of issues.
- 8.1.1 At the NRC, prior to filing a notice of occurrence, all employees who believe they have been subjected to harassment or violence or have witnessed harassment and violence, are encouraged to speak to the Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson will be able to discuss the matter with the employee confidentially, and provide a full explanation of the potential tools available to resolve the matter, including the possibility of engaging the services of an informal conflict resolution practitioner.
- 8.1.2 However, an employee may also decide to engage the assistance of a manager if they deem this to be the most appropriate means of achieving informal resolution.
8.2 Formal employer notification: If an employee is not satisfied with the outcome of efforts to resolve the matter informally, or if informal resolution would not be safe or appropriate in the circumstances, employees subjected to harassment or violence or who witness someone being subjected to harassment or violence are encouraged to notify the Senior Ethics Officer as soon as possible. The employee may notify the Senior Ethics Officer of a harassment or violence occurrence verbally or in writing.
- 8.2.1 A notice of occurrence must contain:
- the name of the principal party and the responding party, if known
- the date(s) of the occurrence
- a detailed description of the occurrence
- 8.2.2 All employees should be aware that the resolution process foreseen in the Regulations is not designed to offer personal remedies to principal parties, nor is it designed to lead to discipline. See Section 10 for additional recourse options.
- 8.2.3 When in receipt of an occurrence report, depending on the severity of the alleged conduct, the extent to which the occurrence was shown to have been caused by the personal conduct of the responding party compared to systemic workplace factors, and bearing in mind the NRC’s responsibilities to maintain a safe workplace for its employees, the Senior Ethics Officer may decide, pursuant to the NRC Code of conduct, to conduct a concurrent administrative investigation as per Section 8.8, into situations of alleged harassment and violence. In all cases where this is to occur, the parties will be clearly notified of this at the outset of the resolution process, and informed how this impacts their rights in the process.
- 8.2.4 A notice of an occurrence must not be provided if: a) the responding party is not an NRC employee or manager; b) exposure to harassment and violence is a normal condition of work for the principal party; and c) the NRC has measures in place to address that workplace harassment and violence. All 3 conditions must be met in these cases.
- 8.2.5 The expectation is that the resolution process shall be completed within one year after the day on which notice of occurrence is provided. Exceptions to the one year timeline include circumstances in which either the principal or responding party is temporarily absent from work for more than 90 consecutive days during the course of the resolution process, and as otherwise described in the Regulations, including if there is an unforeseen delay. In circumstances where there is a delay in completing the resolution process, the Senior Ethics Officer will keep a record describing the reason for the delay.
8.3 Anonymous notice: Employees who experience or witness harassment and violence may choose to provide an anonymous notification of workplace harassment and violence occurrence.
- 8.3.1 If an anonymous notice is submitted, and the notice does not contain the name of the principal party, the resolution process as outlined in this section will not proceed. Instead, the Senior Ethics Officer, in collaboration with NCOSH, as applicable partner, will review, and if necessary, update the workplace harassment and violence assessment and determine if any additional preventive measures are required.
- 8.3.2 In instances where the notice is provided by a third party or witness and the employee subjected to the occurrence of harassment or violence chooses to remain anonymous or does not wish to proceed with the resolution process, the Senior Ethics Officer, in collaboration with NCOSH as the applicable partner, will conduct a review of the workplace assessment.
- 8.3.3 As indicated earlier, depending on the severity of the reported occurrence and the employer’s assessment of the situation, the Senior Ethics Officer may take other appropriate steps, including but not limited to, initiating an administrative investigation under the NRC Code of conduct.
8.4 Response to principal party: The Senior Ethics Officer should attempt to respond to the principal party as soon as possible and within seven consecutive days after the day on which the Senior Ethics Officer is notified of an occurrence. The Senior Ethics Officer will contact the principal party and:
- 8.4.1 confirm that the notification has been received or inform them that a notification was received from a third party
- 8.4.2 address urgent situations immediately (e.g. where there is the potential for imminent danger)
- 8.4.3 inform the principal party or the third party, as the case may be, of how to access this Policy
- 8.4.4 explain each step of the resolution process
- 8.4.5 inform the principal party or the third party, as the case may be, that they have a right to be accompanied by a support person of their choice at any time during the resolution process
8.5 Response to responding party: The Senior Ethics Officer will notify the responding party regarding the notification of an occurrence, in a timely manner, and:
- 8.5.1 inform them that they have been named or identified as the responding party in the notice of an occurrence
- 8.5.2 inform them on how to access this Policy
- explain each step of the resolution process
- 8.5.3 inform them that they have a right to be accompanied by a support person of their choice at any time during the resolution process
- 8.5.4 inform them on how to access support services
8.6 Negotiated resolution: The Senior Ethics Officer, the principal party and, if contacted, the responding party, must make every reasonable effort to resolve an occurrence for which a notice has been received. The reasonable effort includes a review by the principal party and the Senior Ethics Officer to determine whether the notice of occurrence provided describes an action, conduct or comment that constitutes harassment and violence as defined in this Policy.
- 8.6.1 The efforts to negotiate a resolution must begin no later than 45 days after the day on which that notice is provided. Pressure cannot be applied to participants to resolve an occurrence.
- 8.6.2 If negotiated resolution is not achieved, the principal party may choose to proceed with conciliation or an investigation.
8.7 Conciliation: conciliation of an occurrence of harassment or violence can only proceed if both the principal party and responding party agree to it and agree on who will facilitate this process.
- 8.7.1 If conciliation cannot proceed or if it is unsuccessful, and the principal party chooses to proceed with the resolution process, the notification of occurrence will be investigated.
- 8.7.2 Conciliation is generally not recommended for sexual harassment, sexual assault and/or sexual violence.
8.8 Investigation: If an occurrence is not resolved under Section 8.6 or 8.7, an investigation of the occurrence must be carried out if the principal party requests it. As previously indicated, the Senior Ethics Officer may also decide to initiate an investigation pursuant to the NRC Code of conduct into an allegation or occurrence as per Section 8.2.3.
- 8.8.1 Notice of investigation: The Senior Ethics Officer will provide the principal party and the responding party with notice that an investigation will be carried out. If the Senior Ethics Officer will be initiating a concurrent administrative investigation pursuant to the NRC Code of conduct, the parties will be clearly informed.
- 8.8.2 Selection of investigator: At all times, when conducting an investigation involving an occurrence report of harassment and violence, pursuant to the Code and Regulations, the Senior Ethics Officer will appoint one or more impartial, qualified and trained investigators who meet all of the requirements in the Regulations, as follows:
- 22.214.171.124 From the list of persons who may act as an investigator that has been prepared jointly by the Senior Ethics Officer and NCOSH, as applicable partner; or
- 126.96.36.199 In situations where such as list has not been jointly prepared by the Senior Ethics Officer and NCOSH, the principal party and the responding party will work together in good faith to select the person who is to act as the investigator. If the parties are unable to agree on an investigator within 60 days after the day on which the notice is provided, the Senior Ethics Officer will select a person from among those whom the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety identifies as having the knowledge, training and experience required.
- 188.8.131.52 Where the investigation is initiated by the Senior Ethics Officer, pursuant to the NRC Code of conduct only, the Senior Ethics Officer will retain the authority to appoint a qualified, impartial, and trained investigator.
- 8.8.3 Information for investigator: The Senior Ethics Officer will provide the investigator with all information that is relevant to the investigation, such as the nature of the occurrence, scope of the investigation, the names of the principal party, responding party and witnesses, and all other relevant background information that is available.
- 8.8.4 Investigation process: NRC investigations will be conducted pursuant to this Policy be conducted in a fair and impartial manner, while respecting the intent of the Code, the Regulations, and the principles of procedural fairness, to the extent possible and applicable in the circumstances. The details of the different investigation processes contemplated under this Policy are explained further in the Directive and tools [forthcoming] that have been created to complement this Policy.
- 8.8.5 Investigation report: An investigator’s report regarding an occurrence must set out the following information:
- a general description of the occurrence
- their conclusions, including those related to the circumstances in the workplace that contributed to the occurrence
- their recommendations to eliminate or minimize the risk of a similar occurrence
- 184.108.40.206 When an investigation under this Policy is conducted pursuant to the Code and Regulations only, the investigator’s report must not reveal, directly or indirectly, the identity of persons who are involved in an occurrence or the resolution process for an occurrence. Information that may reveal identity directly or indirectly, include but are not limited to, names, work locations, dates, division/group names etc.
- 220.127.116.11 The Senior Ethics Officer will provide a copy of the investigator’s report to the principal party, responding party, and the appropriate local COSH.
- 18.104.22.168 When an administrative investigation is being conducted, pursuant to the NRC Code of conduct, in addition to the report described above that is completed under this Policy, the investigator shall also produce a second report for the Senior Ethics Officer, which shall be permitted to contain as many details as are required to ensure that the NRC is able to properly and fully resolve the situation and restore the workplace, including by initiating a disciplinary process, if appropriate and applicable in the circumstances. The applicable local COSH will not be entitled to a copy of the second report related to the administrative investigation pursuant to the NRC Code of conduct.
8.9 Completion of resolution process
- 8.9.1 In the case of the report prepared pursuant to this Policy, the Code and Regulations, the Senior Ethics Officer will provide a copy of the report to the applicable local COSH and they will jointly determine which of the recommendations set out in the report will be implemented.
- 8.9.2 If the Senior Ethics Officer and the local COSH cannot agree on which recommendations set out in the investigator’s report should be implemented, then the Senior Ethics Officer’s decision as to which recommendations are appropriate to implement prevails. However, the Senior Ethics Officer must document their decision and the reason for that decision as per paragraph 35(1)(d) of the Regulations, and keep a record of the decision and its reasons for 10 years as per subsection 35(2) of the Regulations.
- 8.9.3 In those cases where the principal party ends the resolution process before the matter has been resolved, or where the responding party is not an NRC employee or manager, the local COSH must, in collaboration with the Senior Ethics Officer, review the workplace assessment, considering the circumstances of the occurrence report, and if necessary update the workplace assessment in collaboration with the Senior Ethics Officer.
9. Good faith and reprisals
9.1 While all NRC employees are strongly encouraged to report occurrences of harassment and violence, this Policy assumes that they will do so responsibly and in good faith. All employees should be aware that reporting an occurrence of harassment and violence in bad faith may represent a material breach of the norms and standard established by the NRC Code of conduct and may lead to an administrative investigation initiated by the Senior Ethics Officer, and potential discipline.
9.2 All NRC employees, including managers, must be aware that reprisal against an employee who has exercised rights or duties under this Policy, or under the enabling legislation, is unacceptable and incompatible with the standards of civility and respect at the NRC. Specifically, under section 147, the Code prohibits discipline against an employee who has participated in good faith in the process outlined in this Policy. Concerns regarding reprisals should be reported to the Senior Ethics Officer.
- 9.2.1 Any form of reprisal may be subject to an administrative investigation initiated by the Senior Ethics Officer and may represent a material breach of the norms and standards established by the NRC Code of conduct. Further, this investigation may give rise to other measures, up to and including disciplinary action.
10. Additional recourse options
10.1 As described further in the Directive and tools [forthcoming] that complement this Policy, other recourse options may be available for employees involved in an occurrence of workplace harassment and violence. These include, but are not necessarily limited to, filing a grievance, making a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and filing a Disclosure of Wrongdoing.
11. Privacy and confidentiality
11.1 The NRC wishes to encourage those who have been subject or witness to workplace harassment and violence to come forward. As such, to the extent possible in the circumstances, the resolution process relating to occurrences of harassment and violence will be handled with utmost sensitivity and discretion. Trust and safety in the process is paramount.
11.2 As stated elsewhere, protecting the full privacy of those who have been subjected to harassment and violence or witnesses in the harassment and violence resolution process may not always be possible or practicable in the context of the public sector due to legal obligations, including those respecting access to information and privacy, and also due to the NRC’s obligation to fully investigate potential misconduct. The Senior Ethics Officer will work closely with the parties to address the occurrence while ensuring that information about the complaint is kept confidential, unless required by Policy or law.
12. Records and monitoring
12.1 The NRC must keep the following health and safety records for a period of 10 years:
- the workplace harassment and violence prevention policy
- a copy of the documents that form part of the workplace assessment
- a copy of the documents that form part of each review and update of the workplace assessment
- for each instance where the Senior Ethics Officer and NCOSH, as applicable partner, or local COSH, when considering recommendations from investigations are unable to agree on a matter that is required by the Regulations to be jointly done by them, a record of the Senior Ethics Officer’s decision in that matter and the reasons for that decision
- a record of each notice provided under subsection 15(1) of the Regulations and of each action taken in response to the notice
- for each instance where a time limit set out in section 33 of the Regulations is not met, a document that sets out the reason for the delay
- a copy of each report that is prepared by an investigator under subsection 30(1) of the Regulations
- a copy of each annual report to the Minister
- a copy of each fatality report provided under subsection 37(1) of the Regulations
12.2 To ensure this Policy remains current and up to date, it shall be reviewed by the Senior Ethics Officer, in consultation with NCOSH as applicable partner and the bargaining agents, at least once every 3 years, with the first review to be complete on or before 1 July 2022.
12.3 The Policy shall also be updated, if necessary, following an update to a workplace assessment or if there is a change to any element of the Policy or the Regulations or if an additional hazard has been identified under the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (COHSR), (Hazard Prevention Program 19.3).
13. Emergency procedure
13.1 NRC has in place procedures for emergency situations that pose immediate danger to the health and safety of employees. Employees who are subject or witness to an occurrence of harassment and violence in the workplace that poses an immediate threat to individual health and safety should follow the NRC Process for Reporting Emergencies and Security Incidents.
13.2 If working off-site, including remotely from home, employees can contact 9-1-1 to report an emergency situation that poses immediate danger to their health and safety. An employee encountering such a situation should also report the incident to their supervisor as soon as possible. Supervisors should inform senior management of such incidents and offer support to employees as required.
13.3 If an employee is experiencing domestic violence, is in immediate danger and believes that they or their family is at risk, they should contact the police immediately by calling 9-1-1. They may also contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 1-800-268-7708 - a toll-free, bilingual line operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Employees can also consult with NRC Security Branch if there is a concern about their safety at work as a result of their domestic situation. In addition, they may contact their supervisor or Human Resources Generalist to discuss options.
14.1 The Senior Ethics Officer is responsible for providing training to all employees, jointly developed or identified with NCOSH as the applicable partner and in consultation with bargaining agents, specific to the culture, conditions and activities of the workplace as it relates to workplace harassment and violence.
14.2 At a minimum, this training program will cover:
- 14.2.1 how to recognize, minimize, prevent and resolve workplace harassment and violence
- 14.2.2 a description of the relationship between workplace harassment and violence and the prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act
- 14.2.3 other important elements of this Policy
14.3 Employees shall receive training as defined in this Policy and as delivered by the Senior Ethics Officer, within three (3) months after the day on which their employment begins, and again once every three (3) years.
14.4 The Senior Ethics Officer shall provide specialized training for managers and supervisors.
14.5 The Senior Ethics Officer shall also provide specialized training and support to NCOSH and local COSHs to enable them to fulfill their responsibilities under this Policy.
15. Additional support services
15.1 The NRC offers other services to support NRC employees, as follows:
- 15.1.1 Informal Conflict Resolution Practitioners: offer a systematic approach to preventing conflict escalation by managing and resolving conflicts in the workplace confidentially, quickly and constructively through various services, including individual coaching, conciliation, training, and group interventions.
- 15.1.2 Senior Advisor, Harassment/Violence Prevention and Resolution: supports the Senior Ethics Officer and provides training, advice and guidance to employees and managers related to harassment and violence prevention and resolution.
- 15.1.3 Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a confidential, free, bilingual service, can be reached at 1-800-268-7708. EAP is available everywhere in Canada, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
- 15.1.4 Human Resources Generalists can offer additional options for specialized support services as required.
16.1 Enquiries about this policy, or complaints regarding its application, should be directed to the NRC's Senior Ethics Officer.
17.1 Related NRC policies available for employees:
- NRC Code of Conduct
- NRC Occupational Health and Safety Policy
- NRC Accommodation Policy
- NRC Employment Equity Policy
- NRC Multiculturalism Policy
- NRC Official Languages Policy
17.2 Related NRC directives and guides available for employees:
- NRC Directive on the Prevention and Resolution of Workplace Harassment and Violence (forthcoming)
- NRC Report on Risk Factors for Workplace Harassment and Violence (forthcoming)
- NRC training materials on the prevention and resolution of workplace harassment and violence (forthcoming)
- NRC Disclosure of Protection Act
- NRC Reporting emergencies and security incidents
- NRC FAQ: Domestic violence leave
- NRC Directive on Persons Granted Access (forthcoming)
- NRC Wellness and mental health resources
- NRC Equity, Diversity and Inclusion resources
17.3 Additional references:
- Access to Information Act
- Privacy Act
- Official Languages Act
- Canada Labour Code
- Canadian Human Rights Act
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Constitution Act, 1982
- Canadian Multiculturalism Act
- Employment Equity Act
- Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (COHSR)
- Criminal Code
- Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board Act
- Treasury Board Policy on People Management
- Treasury Board Directive on the Prevention and Resolution of Workplace Harassment and Violence (forthcoming)
- National Joint Council (NJC) OHS Directive