Saskatchewan employers face new obligations to address workplace violence

In case you missed it, MLT Aikins recently hosted the 2023 Saskatchewan Labour Update, which included a discussion on Bill 91, The Saskatchewan Employment (Part III) Amendment Act, 2022 (the “Amendment Act, 2022”). The bill came into force on May 17, 2023, giving employers one year to develop workplace violence policies and prevention plans. Here’s what you need to know.

Workplace violence policies

Prior to the amendments, The Saskatchewan Employment Act required employers and workplaces to have a violence policy or prevention plan in place only where a violent situation had occurred or was likely to occur.

As of May 17, 2024, all employers will be required to have a written policy statement and prevention plan in place. This gives employers one year to develop and implement their policy and plan. The plan must be developed in consultation with the occupational health and safety committee, the occupational health and safety representative or workers if there is no committee or representative.

The plan must include:

  • A commitment to minimize or eliminate risk
  • Identifying the worksites where there is a risk that a violent situation may occur
  • Identifying staff positions that are at risk of being exposed to a violent situation
  • The procedure to inform workers of the nature and extent of the risk from violence
  • The actions the employer will take to minimize or eliminate risk
  • A violent incident reporting procedure
  • Documenting and investigation procedure
  • A recommendation for post-incident counselling or consultation with a physician
  • A commitment to training

Once the policy and plan are developed, they will need to be readily available to all employees.

The Amendment Act 2022 has expanded the definition of “worker” to include volunteers, contractors and those enrolled in secondary or post-secondary education, who will also be subject to the policy and plan.

Violence prevention

The Amendment Act 2022 includes provisions that emphasize violence prevention duties for employers, supervisors and workers. Employers and supervisors are required to reasonably ensure that workers are not exposed to violence in the workplace. They have an obligation to be aware of the risks of violence within their workplaces and to ensure steps are taken to reduce the likelihood of violence. Additionally, workers must refrain from causing or participating in violence toward other workers.

Workplace investigations

Employers are now required to investigate any incidents of violence in their workplace. These incidents could be either formal complaints or situations of suspected violence. This will result in an increased number of investigations taken by employers to ensure compliance with the amended provisions.

Workplace violence training

The Amendment Act 2022 now requires employers to provide their employees with workplace violence training covering the ability to recognize potentially violent situations. Training should also include practices and procedures developed to minimize the risk of violence, the appropriate response to incidents of violence and reporting procedures.

Upcoming seminar

MLT Aikins will host a webinar on preventing and investigating violence and harassment in the workplace on September 27, 2023. Stay tuned for further details. More information on the Amendment Act, 2022 can be found in our previous blog.

If you do not have a workplace violence policy and prevention plan in place or need help updating your plan to comply with the amendments, the MLT Aikins Labour & Employment group would be happy to assist you.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.