New rules include expanded definition of worker, requirements to investigate incidents of harassment
Saskatchewan is hoping to make workplaces safer for young workers with amendments to the Saskatchewan Employment Act.
“The legislation that governs employers and employees needs to meet the changing workplace if we are to ensure we are creating an environment that is fair and balanced, improves health and safety in workplaces and sets a path forward for economic growth,” says the government.
As part of the changes, secondary and post-secondary students are now included in the definition of worker.
“This amendment will ensure that students who are permitted to work or who are being trained by an employer are covered by the provisions in Part III of the Act,” according to the government.
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The amendments also clarify the employers’ duty and responsibility to ensure that incidents of harassment are investigated, and require all workplaces to have a violence policy in place that will also apply to students, volunteers and contract workers.
Currently only prescribed workplaces are required to have a policy and prevention plan.
The government is also clarifying that occupational health officers have the authority to take photographs or recordings during a workplace inspection to ensure transparency, and to bring Saskatchewan in line with other jurisdictions in Canada. However, officers must ensure to maintain the privacy of information, materials and individuals.
Saskatchewan is also amending the policy that allows the person being questioned by officers during an interview to nominate another person to be present. Now, an officer who is conducting an investigation interview has the right to exclude a nominee if there is a perceived conflict. However, the person being interviewed would be able to select another nominee to be present.
“This amendment will ensure the investigation process is not influenced by third parties and workers are not led to believe that they are represented by a nominee who does not have the workers’ best interest in mind,” according to the government.
Other housekeeping and general amendments include:
- The director of occupational health and safety will be allowed to defer action on the appeal of an officer’s decision if there is another proceeding underway.
- The practice of reducing the amount of money owed to a worker by the amount of money earned in an alternate employment will be discontinued. This will ensure that workers who suffered a discriminatory action receive the full amount of wages that a worker would have earned.