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Workplace Violence (OPS)

❗ If you are in immediate danger or need medical attention

Seek safety and call 9-1-1 and/or building security.


Contents

Introduction

Your Employer's responsibilities

Types of workplace violence

If you experience workplace violence

Next steps

How management will respond

Investigation

Resolution

If you are unable to attend work

If you are directed to return to work and do not feel safe

Confidentiality

If you have questions or need assistance

Community resources


Introduction

Everyone has a right to live free from violence.

Unfortunately, nearly one in five violent incidents (which can include assault, sexual assault, threats, and more) happen in Canadian workplaces.  They severely impact workers and make workplaces unsafe.

If you experience violence in the workplace, AMAPCEO is here to help.


Your Employer's responsibilities

Your Employer has the responsibility to provide you with a healthy and safe workplace during your hours of employment. This includes protecting you from acts of verbal, physical, and sexual violence. It also includes protecting you from domestic violence in the workplace.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), your Employer must also develop a policy and implement a risk control and assessment program. This includes measures and procedures for summoning and providing immediate assistance when workplace violence occurs or is likely to occur, reporting incidents, and investigating incidents or complaints.

Employers cannot discipline, fire, or intimidate a worker for seeking enforcement of or acting in compliance with the OHSA or its regulations.


Types of workplace violence

Workplace violence can be a one-time occurrence, or it can involve repeated conduct. It can be conducted by a colleague, a client, or a friend or family member of a worker, or a completely external perpetrator.

Some examples of workplace violence include:

  • threatening to harm someone in the workplace through either verbal or written communication (e.g., letter, note, email);
  • hitting, kicking, pushing, or biting a worker, or attempting to do so;
  • spitting at a worker;
  • throwing an object at someone;
  • sexual violence (unwanted sexual activity such as stalking, sexual assault, etc.); and
  • a domestic partner or family member of a worker threatening to, attempting to, or harming them at work.

The definition of workplace violence is broad enough that it includes offences falling under Canada’s Criminal Code.


If you experience workplace violence

  • contact the police, if necessary;
  • report the incident to your manager or your HR Advisor; and
  • seek the assistance of an AMAPCEO OPS Workplace Representative in your District right away.

See below on how to ask for help from a Workplace Representative.

You may also wish to seek free, immediate, and confidential counselling through the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP). Additional resources are available below.

Next steps

If you want your employer to contact the police, request written confirmation from them when that occurs.

You should document the incident, including:

  • the date, time, and location;
  • a description of what transpired and whether you sustained any injuries;
  • colour photos of your injuries;
  • the names of any witnesses; and
  • your response to the situation (e.g., called police and/or paramedics, sought first aid, relocated to a safe location).

Your AMAPCEO Workplace Representative will work with you to determine next steps in your situation.

Where appropriate, you have the option of working with your supervisor or another Employer representative to resolve your issue informally with the assistance of your Workplace Representative.

If you do not want to attempt to informally resolve your situation, or if it is unsuccessful, there is a formal process you can consider. Consult with your Workplace Representative on this.


How management will respond

The responsible manager is required to follow the OPS Workplace Violence and Prevention Policy (WVPP) and fulfill relevant Ministry of Labour, Joint Health and Safety Committee, and ministry-specific reporting requirements, depending on the circumstances.

If the incident could be considered a criminal offence, management is required to contact the police and/or building security, if they have not already been notified.

Investigation

The manager will determine if an investigation is required. If so, this will be conducted by either the manager, the next highest level of management, or an external investigator. Any investigation may include interviewing the complainants, the respondents, and any witnesses.

Resolution

If the investigation confirms a violence incident, the manager is required to resolve it by:

  • reviewing existing workplace procedures, training requirements, and the Workplace Violence Risk Assessment;
  • implementing appropriate control measures; and/or
  • taking timely remedial or disciplinary action (e.g., suspension, dismissal).

Once the fact-finding review or investigation is complete, management will provide an update to all affected employees.


If you are unable to attend work

If you are unable to attend to your work duties due to illness or injury arising out of a workplace violence incident:

You can also submit a Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) claim for benefits for lost time due to any work-related injury or work-related post‑traumatic stress. Learn more about WSIB claims on their website.

And, if you have experienced or been threatened by domestic or sexual violence, you can request a special leave under the Employment Standards Act. Learn more in our fact sheet on leaves of absence.

If you are directed to return to work and you do not feel safe

You can exercise your right to refuse unsafe work. Learn more in our fact sheet on your right to refuse unsafe work.


Confidentiality

Managers are required to maintain the confidentiality of all personal information collected during their review and/or investigation process, unless it is for one of the identified exemptions in the OPS Workplace Violence Prevention Policy.

AMAPCEO, and our Workplace Representatives, take confidentiality seriously. The union has a robust Protection of Members’ Privacy Policy.


If you have questions or need assistance

Please contact an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative in your District. They do not have to be in your Ministry.

Workplace Representatives are trained union members who have volunteered to confidentially assist members like you in the workplace. They should be your first point of contact in seeking information and representation with an issue at work.

Your Workplace Representative may ask you to use the union’s secure web-based system, RADAR, to provide details about your situation. RADAR will help you and your Workplace Representative keep track of things without the privacy concerns that could come from using the Employer’s email system.


Community resources

Fact Sheet

Bargaining Unit: Ontario Public Service (OPS)

First Published: August 3, 2021

Last Updated: August 4, 2021

Contact a Workplace Representative

See more Ontario Public Service Fact Sheets