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Date Issued: 08/11/2000
Revision Date: 27/02/2009

Preamble

As an employer, the Government of Saskatchewan (GoS) values the dignity of all employees and is committed to creating and maintaining a respectful work environment.

Every employee is entitled to employment free from harassment.  All managers, supervisors and employees are expected to treat each other respectfully.

Application

This policy applies to all workplaces of the Executive government and to:

  • All employees appointed under The Public Service Act, 1998;
  • Individuals on work-experience placements;
  • Volunteers working on behalf of Executive government; and
  • Fee-for-service individuals and contractors providing services to the GoS.

This policy does not apply to individuals working outside Executive government. Employees of Executive government who feel they have been harassed by someone to whom this policy does not apply should discuss the matter with their supervisor and/or Human Resources (HR), who will take immediate steps to address the issues.

Policy

The government has zero tolerance towards harassment in the workplace. Harassment will not be tolerated.

No reported incident will go unaddressed. Allegations of harassment will be taken seriously and, if substantiated, addressed through corrective measures, which may include disciplinary action.

Key Principles

1. Permanent heads are ultimately responsible for fostering a work environment free of harassment.
2. Employees are responsible for creating and maintaining a respectful workplace and being aware of the process for addressing concerns regarding harassment.
3. Early problem-solving mechanisms, such as mediation, are preferred processes to resolve problems at the outset (where appropriate). These restorative processes focus on conflict resolution rather than blame or punishment.
4. The best resolution are those developed with direct participation of the Complainant(s) and Respondent(s)
5. The complaint process, including the investigation, if necessary, should be completed without undue delay.
6. Corrective action must be timely
7. Interference with the resolution of a complaint by threats, intimidation or retaliation; breaches of confidentiality; or complaints filed in bad faith will not be tolerated.
8. Disciplinary action will follow the PS-803 Corrective Discipline Policy.

Definitions

Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a collaborative, consensual approach to resolving disputes. ADR encompasses processes that usually involve a neutral third party who assists the parties in resolving disputes. Examples of ADR processes include facilitated problem-solving and mediation.

Complainant
The person who makes a complaint of harassment or brings an incident of harassment to the attention of the employer.

Discrimination
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, creed, religion, colour, sex, sexual orientation, family status, marital status, disability, age, nationality, ancestry, place of origin, or receipt of public assistance.

Discrimination includes, but is not limited to, unequal treatment based on one or more of the prohibited grounds under The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

Discrimination can be intentional or unintentional, direct or indirect.  Harassment is a form of discrimination.

Facilitated Problem-Solving
A creative process led by a third party that includes the Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) and may include a manager, Public Service Commission (PSC) Human Resource Service Teams, work group and/or the union (if applicable). The goal is to identify an acceptable resolution to the issue.

Harassment
This policy utilizes the definition of harassment as set out in The Saskatchewan Employment Act.
3-1 (1) (I) "harassment" means any inappropriate conduct, comment, display, action or gesture by a person:

(i) that either
(A) is based on race, creed, religion, colour, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability, physical size or weight, age, nationality, ancestry or place of origin; or

(B) subject to subsections (4) and (5), adversely affects the worker's psychological or physical well-being and that the person knows or ought reasonable to know would cause a worker to be humiliated or intimidated; and

(ii) that constitutes a threat to the health or safety of the worker;

3-1 (4) To constitute harassment for the purposes of paragraph (1)(I)(i)(B), either of the following must be established:

(a) repeated conduct, comments, displays, actions or gestures;

(b) a single, serious occurrence of conduct, or a single, serious comment, display, action or gesture, that has a lasting, harmful effect on the worker.

3-1 (5) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(I)(i)(B), harassment does not include any reasonable action that is taken by an employer, or a manager or supervisor employed or engaged by an employer, relating to the management and direction of the employer's workers or the place of employment.

Note: Harassment includes any inappropriate conduct, comment, display, action or gesture by a person that is based on any the grounds identified in the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) or Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) collective bargaining agreements.

Harassment Prevention Coordinator (HPC)
Individual designated by the permanent head to fulfill the role as identified in this policy.

Investigation
A fair and impartial fact-finding process to access whether the allegation(s) is founded, unfounded or made in bad faith.

Mediation
A facilitated and voluntary process led by a trained mediator involving the Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) to help them attempt to resolve the matter.

The outcome of this process is a mutual understanding and a written, signed and recorded agreement to restorative action between those involved.

For purposes of this policy, permanent head means "permanent head or designate".

Permanent Head Advisory Panel
A panel of peers with whom a permanent head may consult prior to making a decision. At a minimum, the panel includes the Chair of the PSC and the Deputy Minister of Justice.

Respondent
The employee(s) against whom a complaint has been lodged

Supervisor
For purposes of this policy, supervisor means (supervisor, manager or a person of higher authority within the Ministry".

Workplace
For the purposes of this policy, the workplace includes, but is not limited to, the physical work site, washrooms, cafeterias, training sessions, business travel, field locations, conferences, work-related social gatherings or any other place where the employee is required to be in service to the employer.

Roles and Responsibilities

Maintaining a harassment-free work environment is everyone's responsibility. 

Complainant
Is responsible for:

  • Reviewing the policy;
  • Documenting incident(s) of harassment;
  • Making their concerns known to the Respondent(s) or other appropriate person(s) (e.g., supervisor, Ministry Human Resource service Team and/or, if appropriate, shop steward) to review options for resolution; and
  • Participation in the process to resolve the situation constructively.

For additional information, see Where to go for Information or Help section in this policy.

Employees (in-scope and out-of-scope)
Is responsible for:

  • Ensuring employees are not exposed to harassment arising out of their employment; and
  • Implementing this policy and its related processes and procedures.

At any time during the process of handling a complaint where behaviour of a criminal nature has occurred, or is thought to have occurred, the employee subjected to this behaviour must be informed that he/she has the opportunity to advance the complaint to the police for investigation. In cases where the employee has been afforded the opportunity to advance a criminal complaint but chooses not to do so, that choice should be respected except where there is an overriding concern.

Harassment Prevention Coordinators (HPC)
Are responsible for:

  • Gaining a depth of expertise on the Anti-harassment Policy and related processes to fulfill this leadership role;
  • Receiving written complaints for processing under this policy;
  • Ensuring issues and complaints of harassment are appropriately addressed and documented;
  • Ensuring appropriate follow-up and resolution takes place;
  • Coordinating educational and awareness activities in their Ministry; and
  • Reviewing and addressing concerns about how complaints were handled.

Managers and Supervisors
Are responsible for:

  • Familiarizing themselves with the policy and all templates and tools for policy administration;
  • Ensuring a harassment-free work environment and adherence to the policy;
  • Stopping any harassment of which they are aware;
  • Taking appropriate preventive or corrective action;
  • Ensuring all employees' rights are respected;
  • Supporting employees in the conflict resolution process; and
  • Where appropriate, reporting incident(s) of harassment, witnessed and reported by others, to the HPC.

It is misconduct, subject to disciplinary action, for managers and supervisors who are aware of workplace harassment not to take immediate corrective action.

Permanent heads
Have the ultimate responsibility for applying this policy within their Ministry. They are specifically responsible for:

  • Fostering a work environment free of harassment;

  • Holding managers and supervisors accountable for carrying out their responsibilities related to ensuring a harassment-free work environment and adherence to the policy;

  • Communicating this policy to all employees;

  • The designation of the Ministry's HPC;

  • Deciding if the Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) need to be separated pending the completion of the complaint process;

  • Determining if the complaint is founded, unfounded or made in bad faith; and

  • Making decisions for follow-up action to complete the complaint process, which may include discipline, up to and including dismissal

Ministry Human Resource Service Team
Is responsible for

  • Gaining a depth of expertise on the Anti-Harassment Policy and related processes;

  • Assisting managers/supervisors in determining the appropriate action to address workplace harassment;

  • Assisting employees when approached about matters involving harassment;

  • Assisting HPCs in their roles and responsibilities; and

  • Providing advice and assistance to the Permanent head throughout the process.

PSC Labour Relations
Is responsible for:

  • Interpreting the Anti-Harassment Policy;

  • Screening, monitoring and tracking harassment complaints; and

  • Coordinating external investigators

Respondent
Respondent(s) must be notified in the event a complaint is made against them. Respondent(s) should review the policy and may work with their supervisor, HR and/or if appropriate, shop steward, to review options for resolution.

Respondents are encouraged to participate in the process in order to resolve the conflict constructively.

For additional information, see Where to go for Information or Help section in this policy.

Other

Bad Faith Complaints
Complaints should be undertaken with great care because they may result in pain and damage to the Respondent's reputation and disruptions in the workplace. Complaints made frivolously, maliciously, or without factual basis may constitute defamation, may be actionable by the Respondent, and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Complaint Process
Please refer to the flowchart (Appendix A-1) and flowchart explanation (Appendix A-2) for an explanation of how complaints of harassment may be brought to the attention of the employer and processed

Complaint Withdrawal
A Complainant may withdraw a complaint at any time. The employer may still be required to address the concerns raised in cases where:

  • There exists a real or perceived threat to the health or safety of other employees;
  • There is evidence that the Complainant(s) may have been threatened or may fear retaliation;
  • Failure to resolve the matter might endanger an employee;
  • The complaint alleges serious abuse of power; or
  • Failure to follow through on a complaint would seriously damage the reputation of the public service.

Confidentiality
The employer will not disclose the name of a Complainant or Respondent or the circumstances related to the complaint to any person except where disclosure is necessary for the purposes of restorative or investigative processes, or as required by law.

No one involved will discuss or share the information outside the restorative or investigative processes. Information is shared on a "need to know" basis and must not be shared further. Failure to preserve the confidentiality of information acquired during the process may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)
Employees who require assistance such as counselling are encouraged to contact the EFAP.

Employee's Rights
Nothing in this policy precludes the employee's ability to access their rights or provisions through the Collective Bargaining Agreement, The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, The Saskatchewan Employment Act, The Workers' Compensation Act, 2013, workplace violence policies, or any other legal avenues available.

Typically, harassment cases do not involve conduct of a criminal nature. However, in exceptional cases, the actions may amount to criminal behaviour.

Employer's Right to Manager
This policy will not, under any circumstances, be used to impede, limit or constrain the employer's right to manage. For example, work assignments, operational reviews, performance reviews, coaching, work evaluation and disciplinary measures taken by a manager or supervisor, in good faith for valid reasons, do not constitute harassment.

Supervisory and management actions must remain respectful of the individual.

Evidence and Documents Relating to the investigation
Due to the possibility of subsequent action, e.g., legal proceedings, arbitration, judicial review, review by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission or Occupational Health and Safety, Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, materials related to the investigation will be retained in accordance with archival requirements set out in the Administrative Records Management System, 2014 (ARMS 2014). 

Retention of the investigator's materials related to the investigation will be outlined in each investigator's contract for services.

Upon completion of the process, the Ministry will return all investigative materials to Labour Relations, PSC. 

Representation and Support
Employees in a bargaining unit have a right to union representation during any of the processes outlined in this policy.

Individuals outside the bargaining units may be accompanied by a person of their choice, such as HR or a co-worker.

Where an out-of-scope Respondent seeks legal counsel and ultimately there is no finding of harassment, the Permanent head may authorize reimbursement of reasonable legal fees. 

Retaliation
Retaliation is strictly prohibited against anyone who has reported harassment or participated in the complaint process. Any signs of retaliation should be reported immediately to a supervisor, HR, Labour Relations PSC or the union (if applicable).

Retaliation will result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Social Interaction
The policy is not intended to inhibit normal social interaction in the work environment.

Where to Go for Information or Help

Employees may access any of these avenues at any stage of the process:

  • Supervisor;
  • Ministry Human Resource Service Team;
  • Ministry Harassment Prevention Coordinator (HPC);
  • Occupational Health and Safety, Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, (1-800-567-7233);
  • Local union official (no union official will be involved when the Complainant and Respondent are both out-of-scope);
  • SGEU (if applicable):
    • Regina 1-800-667-5221
    • Saskatoon 1-800-667-9791
    • Prince Albert 1-800-667-9355
  • CUPE 600-3 and CUPE 600-5 (if applicable):
    • Regina (306) 525-5874
  • Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (1-800-667-8577);
  • EFAP (306-787-7567); or
  • Police (if an assault or other crime is alleged to have occurred).

Authority

The Saskatchewan Employment Act
The Public Service Act, 1998
T
he Saskatchewan Human Rights Code
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996

Appendices

Appendix A-1:    Flowchart
Appendix A-2:    Flowchart Explanation
Appendix B:        Examples of Harassment
Appendix C:        Harassment Complaint Form

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If you have any questions or require more information please contact:

HR Service Centre

hrsc@gov.sk.ca

Phone: 1-877-852-5808 or 306-798-0000

Fax: 1-877-852-9219 or 306-798-9966

HR Service Centre Fax Cover Sheet

2100 Broad Street, Regina, SK, S4P 1Y5

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