CRA's Procedures in response to workplace violence

February 27, 2018 vers. 1.0

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Table of contents

  1. Effective date
  2. Application
  3. Related corporate policy instruments
  4. Introduction
  5. Activities and roles
  6. Assessment and review
  7. Definitions
  8. References
  9. Enquiries
  10. Version history table

1. Effective date

The Procedures in Response to Workplace Violence came into effect on February 27, 2018, following approval by the Assistant Commissioner of the Human Resources Branch.

See Section 10 for the version history of this document.

2. Application

These procedures apply to employees of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and to any other individual required to comply with CRA policy by virtue of a contract or a memorandum of understanding.

The Code of Integrity and Professional Conduct highlights for all CRA employees the expected standard of conduct and the required adherence to CRA policy instruments. Compliance with CRA corporate procedures is mandatory. To assist with the interpretation and implementation of these procedures, a number of key terms are defined in the Definitions section.

3. Related corporate policy instruments

These procedures flow from the Directive on Occupational Health and Safety and support the Policy on Workplace Management.

See also References.

4. Introduction

The CRA is committed to providing a healthy, safe and violence-free workplace, which respects the requirements outlined in the Canada Labour Code (CLC), Part II (external link), and Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (COHSR) – Part XX – Violence Prevention in the Work Place (external link).

These procedures set out the responsibilities for all CRA employees for preventing workplace violence. They also outline the process for handling an actual or potential incident of workplace violence.

The CRA considers any threat or act of violence, by or against employees, to be unacceptable conduct. Factors that could contribute to workplace violence could include bullying or intentional harmful teasing and/or abusive or other aggressive behaviour. The Directive on Discipline and the Procedures on Addressing Employee Misconduct provide direction on the required steps for addressing employee misconduct.

The Agency Operations Centre manages the reporting process for any workplace violence incident that occurs between non-employees and employees. Managers must follow the Security Incident Reporting and Management Procedures in these circumstances.

The goal of this process is to identify the changes or preventative action required at the organizational level to decrease the likelihood of violence occurring in the workplace. While not an exhaustive list, this could include changes to policies, rules, work practices, training, and communications protocols, among others. This process is not intended to be adversarial and is not meant to find fault, correct individual behaviour, or replace recourse options available to employees. The Agency supports a collaborative approach for addressing health and safety hazards in the workplace and is committed to preventing injuries arising out of, linked with, or occurring in the course of employment.

5. Activities and roles

Managers, as well as the parties to the incident, must make every effort to address the reported incident as soon as possible from the date the incident is reported. The intent of the employer's review is to determine how the employee's concerns can best be resolved, not to determine if the CLC, Part II was violated. It is important to note that an investigation by a competent person will only be conducted after a genuine attempt to resolve the issue with the employee has been made by the manager.

Employees and managers share a responsibility for health and safety and have a duty to participate in this process. Parties must co-operate and participate in the process and provide all relevant information. There may be instances when a party is unable to participate (for example, medical leave). In those situations, managers must still take action to ensure employee safety to the extent practicable. This may include the implementation of preventative measures to avoid a possible future occurrence of workplace violence. If a party involved in the incident requires an accommodation in order to fully participate, they must inform the responsible manager as soon as possible. An accommodation can include an alternate means of participating in the process.

Parties may choose to seek assistance from, or be represented by, a representative, an observer and/or support person present at any stage of this process. If a party chooses to have a representative, observer or support person present at any stage, the manager must document this decision.

During the investigation stage, the competent person will be required to establish the facts directly with the parties involved in the alleged incident. The observer, support person, or representative cannot be a party or a witness to the incident.

5.1 Activities

Addressing an actual or potential incident of workplace violence

There are four steps to address an actual or potential incident of workplace violence:

  1. Step 1 Assess immediate risk to employee health and safety
  2. Step 2 Employer's attempt to resolve issue
  3. Step 3 Competent person investigation
  4. Step 4 Restoring the workplace

Note that step 3 may not be required if the employer's attempt to resolve the issue at step 2 is successful.

At any point and whenever needed, the manager can consult an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Officer for advice and guidance on the steps included in this process.

Step
1 Assess immediate risk to employee health and safety

When notified of a potential or actual incident of workplace violence, the manager's primary concern should be employee health and safety.

Based on the information available, if the manager believes there may be an immediate threat or risk of harm to employees, the manager should contact local police. If any additional security measures are needed, the manager must consult their local Security Official to determine what action should be taken.

If the manager believes there is no immediate health and safety threat or risk to employees, they should move on to Step 2 of this process.

Step
2 Employer's attempt to resolve issue

Managers must first attempt to resolve the issue with the employee reporting the incident, as per COHSR Part XX (external link).

  1. Clarifying the details of the incident
    In order to be able to identify possible solutions to resolve the situation, the manager must first ensure that they fully understand the issue. To do so, the manager must:
    • clarify the details of the alleged workplace violence with the employee reporting the incident, and record the details of the incident;
    • document the situation as it has been reported by the employee;
    • ask for suggestions from the employee on how they feel the incident may be resolved;
    • seek the employee's consent to disclose their identity if required throughout the process;
    • inform the employee of their requirement to participate throughout the process and provide all relevant information;
    • assess the need to separate or discontinue contact between the parties; and
    • encourage the employee to access the services offered by the Employee Assistance Program.
  2. Reporting and documenting
    Once the manager has clarified the details of the incident, they must:
  3. Meeting with employee
    Once the manager understands the issue, and has reported it to the OHS Officer, the manager will meet with the employee to attempt to resolve the issue. At this meeting, the manager must:
    • review the definition of workplace violence, the purpose of this process, and the steps to address an actual or potential incident of workplace violence with the employee;
    • inform the employee of any action they have already taken, or intend to take, to try and prevent similar incidents from occurring;
    • discuss the employee's suggestions for resolving the issue; and
    • confirm with the employee that the issue has been, or will be, resolved.

If, based on this discussion, the employee agrees that the issue is, or will be, resolved the manager must:

  • advise the OHS Officer for tracking and reporting purposes;
  • share the actual corrective measures taken and the proposed implementation plan for additional corrective measures with the health and safety committee; and
  • move to Step 4 – Restoring the workplace.

If the employee reporting the incident believes that the issue is not resolved, prior to moving to Step 3, the manager will consult the employee on:

  • what additional actions would be required to resolve the issue; and
  • why the employee believes the proposed corrective measures are insufficient so that the manager can confirm why the issue cannot be resolved.

If the issue cannot be resolved, the manager must advise the OHS Officer and move to Step 3 – Competent person investigation.

Note: There may be situations where the manager determines that it is plain and obvious that the incident does not meet the definition of workplace violence and determines that no action is required under this process. In these instances, the manager will consult the OHS Officer before making a final decision.

If the manager decides that the reported incident does not meet the definition of workplace violence and should not proceed to a competent person investigation, the employee may, if they disagree with the manager's decision, file a complaint following the Internal Complaint Resolution Process at CRA third stage, starting at the third stage.

Step
3 Competent person investigation

If the manager is not able to resolve the situation to the satisfaction of the employee reporting the incident, a competent person, who is seen to be impartial by the parties, will be appointed to formally investigate the incident. The purpose of the investigation is to examine the facts and provide recommendations for the implementation of controls to prevent a future occurrence of workplace violence and maintain the safety of the workplace. Any party directly involved in the process, including anyone providing advice, guidance and/or support for the situation, cannot act as a competent person.

In consultation with the OHS Officer, the manager must:

  • refer to the competent person list to identify potential candidates;
  • provide the name of the proposed competent person to the parties to the incident of alleged workplace violence;
  • consult with the parties involved regarding the impartiality of the proposed competent person; and
  • appoint a competent person to investigate the incident.

Competent person investigation process

At this stage, the manager's role is to provide support, as required, to the competent person so that they may carry out their investigation. This may involve providing logistical support and/or facilitating interviews/communications with the parties involved.

The competent person will conduct their investigation and provide a report with conclusions and recommendations to the manager.

After receiving the report, the manager must:

  • review the analysis, and conclusions of the report;
  • if the allegation of workplace violence is founded, the manager must review the recommendations and/or corrective measures suggested by the competent person to prevent a future occurrence of workplace violence and maintain the safety of the workplace;
  • determine the applicability of the recommendations and develop an implementation plan for corrective measures;
  • implement the corrective measures which may be immediately required and/or any additional measures identified by the manager to prevent a future occurrence of workplace violence;
  • notify the parties involved of the competent person's conclusions and findings and share a redacted copy of the report in the context of the CLC, Part II (external link) and COHSR – Part XX – Violence Prevention in the Work Place (external link);
  • explain the corrective measures which they have or will implement;
  • share a redacted version of the report with the health and safety committee or health and safety representative (HSC/HSR), so the committee can discuss the corrective and/or preventative measures at their next meeting and monitor their implementation; and
  • notify the parties that the HSC/HSR has received the redacted version of the report, and that the matter has been closed.

If the allegation of workplace violence is unfounded, the manager may still consider the implementation of measures to prevent a future occurrence of workplace violence.

Step
4 Restoring the workplace

Following a situation of alleged or actual workplace violence, it will be necessary to establish or re-establish positive workplace relationships. The manager will consider the services offered by the Employee Assistance Program and the Informal Conflict Resolution Program in order to rebuild a healthy work environment.

5.2 Protection of Information

Protection of information during this process is outlined in the COHSR – Part XX – Violence Prevention in the Work Place (external link).

5.3 Record keeping

Managers must document and maintain records on the actions taken to resolve the incident of workplace violence.

Records, including the competent person report, will be kept by the local manager for two years, and be readily available for examination by an Employment and Social Development Canada Health and Safety Officer.

5.4 Roles

All employees must familiarize themselves with the risk factors that may contribute to incidents of workplace violence as outlined in the Guide to Preventing Workplace Violence.

Employees

  • Contribute to a safe, healthy, and violence-free workplace by completing all mandatory occupational health and safety (OHS) training.
  • Report any incidents of alleged workplace violence, experienced or observed, or any factors that may contribute to workplace violence, to an appropriate manager, and/or depending on the situation, a local security official.
  • Participate and co-operate in each step of the investigation and resolution of matters involving incidents of alleged workplace violence so that the employer may resolve the matter as soon as possible.

Managers

  • Contribute to a safe, healthy and violence-free workplace by ensuring their employees complete all mandatory OHS training.
  • Address inappropriate or damaging behaviours by employees in order to prevent a possible escalation to an incident of violence.
  • Take immediate action to prevent and/or stop violence from occurring upon being notified of a threat or an incident of alleged workplace violence.
  • Document actions taken and outcomes throughout the process.
  • Take action to maintain the privacy and safety of all parties involved in an incident of alleged workplace violence.
  • Cooperate with any personnel conducting an investigation into an incident of alleged workplace violence.
  • Provide the HSC and parties involved in the incident with a redacted version of the competent person report.
  • Implement corrective measures no later than 90 days after they have been identified.

Competent person

  • Conduct an investigation, determine whether violence has taken place, based on a balance of probabilities, and determine the cause of an incident of alleged workplace violence following established protocols.
  • Complete and provide a written report to the manager outlining analysis, conclusions, and recommendations for the implementation of controls to prevent a recurrence of workplace violence and maintain the safety of the workplace.

Observer / Representative / Support person

  • Assist their party throughout the workplace violence resolution process.

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Officers

  • Provide advice and guidance to managers on ways to prevent workplace violence, as well as the workplace violence resolution process.

Labour Relations Advisors

  • Provide labour relations advice and guidance to managers as required.

Health and Safety Committees and Representatives

  • Receive, review, and monitor the implementation of the recommendations, controls, and preventative measures resulting from a competent person's workplace violence investigation.
  • Consider and document whether additional preventative measures are required.

National Occupational Health and Safety Section, Integrity and Well-being Division

  • Provide the National Health and Safety Policy Committee (NHSPC) with regular updates on the performance of the workplace violence prevention program.
  • Provide strategic advice, guidance and support on the application of these procedures.

National Health and Safety Policy Committee

  • Participate in the creation and review of workplace violence prevention documents and supporting tools.
  • Participate in the establishment of a competent person list.

6. Assessment and review

The Human Resources Branch is responsible for the scheduled review of these procedures every three years, as well as for any ad hoc reviews deemed necessary.

To support the review process, the Human Resources Branch is also responsible for identifying and undertaking any monitoring and assessment activities that will help it determine whether the procedures are effective and are being followed.

7. Definitions

See the Workplace Management – Glossary of definitions for more information.

Key terms specific to these procedures are defined as:

  • Violence
  • refers to any action, conduct, threat, or gesture of a person towards an employee in their workplace that can reasonably be expected to cause harm, injury, or illness to that employee.
  • Parties
  • includes the individuals directly involved in the incident or threat of alleged workplace violence.
  • Workplace
  • refers to any place where an employee is engaged in work for the CRA.
  • Competent person
  • refers to someone who is impartial and is seen by the parties to be impartial, has knowledge, training, and experience in issues relating to workplace violence, and has knowledge of relevant legislation.

8. References

The Procedures in Response to Workplace Violence must be administered and implemented in conjunction with the following:

Legislation

CRA corporate policy instruments

The following web or intranet pages provide more information related to these procedures.

9. Enquiries

Questions about these procedures should be directed to the HR Service Centre.

10. Version history table

Version history table
Version no. Change(s) Reason for change(s) Area responsible Major change – Approved by:
Minor change – Sign-off by:
(name and title)
Approval date Effective date
1.0 - - Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Assistant Commissioner, Human Resources Branch February 26, 2018 February 27, 2018