Please note that this letter is meant ONLY for churches in Ontario, Canada, as it springs out of provincial law within that province alone. This information was sent to Ontario churches in July, 2016.
Bill 132 is about sexual harassment in the workplace, and also includes volunteers who work for the organization. What does a local church need to do to fulfill the new Bill 132?
I would suggest that your church include the requirements of Bill 132 in your Safe Church Policy. Under Bill 132, the OHSA’s definition of “workplace harassment” will be expanded to include “workplace sexual harassment”, which is defined as:
- 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
- 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.
I’m sure you’ve already found some guidance on-line about what this means, but if not, here are two websites where I found information about what needs to be implemented.
A legal brief from Navex Global
A newsletter from the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Law
They seem to have very similar information but the newsletter has information about what to do in case of an incident.
I would suggest the following to be added to your Safe Church policy:
- Definition of work place harassment
- How to report incidents and to whom (Safe Church?) while keeping confidentiality
- How your Safe Church team (or other governing body) will respond to an allegation
- How results of investigations will be relayed to individuals involved and what course of corrective action will be taken
- What kind of awareness training will be provided to inform church members, including legal obligations, as well as training those who would undertake any investigations.
It might be an idea to also contact your insurance company about this and possibly your lawyer. If your church is a member of CCCC, you may also get some good advice from them.