SEXUAL HARASSMENT – 5 MAJOR WARNING SIGNS FOR ORGANIZATIONS

SEXUAL HARASSMENT – 5 MAJOR WARNING SIGNS FOR ORGANIZATIONS

As the horrors of the sexual harassment stories unfold, many executives find themselves turning the search light on their own internal procedures. The wave of sexual harassment incidents reported by women is great news for media houses, but for organizations it is an indication of troubling issues that require attention. The sexual harassments stories, so far, show high profile employees or top executives to be the harassers. We can hardly keep track of these powerful men who have been accused of sexual misconduct.  This chilling realization has cast a gloom over an important tier of the management structure.  It is dark days for companies that are faced with the separation of top executives and senior managers, especially those known to be star performers.

As sexual allegations become more widespread, many companies are hoping their corporate “closet” is free from any sexual misdemeanour.  The frenetic rush to avoid any disparaging disclosure to the public has placed sexual harassment at the top of the agenda.  We all want to fix the sexual harassment problem. In doing so, it is prime time to bring to surface some major factors that nourish the perpetration of sexual misconduct.

Here are some major warning signs for organizations:

  • Excessive Hierarchical Structures – Most organizations have some degree of hierarchy, but too many layers of structural differentiation create power imbalances among people. Within the ranking of positions, power groups emerge, and subordinates are often the vulnerable ones. It is not unusual to hear about cases of humiliation, intimidation and coercion perpetrated by superiors. The higher up the hierarchy is the greater the chance of power abuse. As affiliations within power groups grow stronger, there are some superiors who believe they are entitled to make any request – even shameful or unethical. This is exactly the environment where females or weaker employees become easy targets to sexual predators.
  • Gender Discrimination – If men are more favoured for higher paying positions, then women are placed in a lower rank. This simply gives men the clout to think they are superior to women which creates an atmosphere for discriminatory treatment, unfair requests and repressed feelings. Implementing equity frameworks and stamping out sexism would help. This would reduce some of the powerlessness and psychological stress women often experience when standing up for themselves.
  • Weak Leadership – It is the responsibility of organizational leaders to make the workplace a safe and respectful environment, free from sexual harassment or feelings of victimization. If employees believe that infractions committed by certain power groups are kept as secrets with no consequences, then a case of sexual misconduct by a high-profile executive is likely to remain unreported. If the leadership team advocates high ethical standards throughout the functional roles of executives, then there will be less inclination or boldness to commit shameful and unacceptable actions.
  • Ineffective HR Departments – If human resources departments fail to seriously probe allegations of harassment, then employees are bound to feel helpless, fearful and humiliated. Human resources departments that are effective will establish and enforce a policy framework that guards and preserves the dignity of all, regardless of rank or position. Promoting a culture of zero tolerance for sexual harassment is a good start.
  • Absence of Training – Organizations that allocate little or no funds to training bear the adverse consequences. In fact, the burden is on the employer to take reasonable steps to educate employees on sexual harassment. Although training may not necessarily eliminate complaints or prevent the brazen advances of predators, the information disseminated to employees will provide procedures to address sexual allegations. This is also an opportunity to reveal to employees the readiness of the organization to intervene. Besides, offering sexual harassment training to both management and employees, reinforces an organization climate of zero tolerance for sexual misconduct.

At Pesce & Associates, our consultants have years of experience in creating and shaping the culture of workplaces. We are ready to help you create an organizational environment that is respectful, fair and inclusive for all. If you are looking to create an anti-harassment work environment, we have the expertise to transform your organization.  We also have vast experience in conducting workplace investigations.

For more information, please visit our website at www.pesceassociates.com or contact Elizabeth Hill, Managing Partner, at ehill@pesceassociates.com  or 416- 491-1501 extension 23.

 

ESA Changes Impacting Your Workplace – More Than a Minimum Wage Increase

Bill 148 proposes major changes to the Employment Standards Act that affect most industries. This Bill has received Royal Assent, and it is now law. Some of the changes take effect immediately. That doesn’t give you much time!

Here is a summary of the changes so you can start planning.

Minimum Wage Increase – January 1, 2018 and 2019
– Increase to $14/hour January 1, 2018
– Increase to $15/hour January 1, 2019
o Annual increases thereafter at the rate of inflation

Paid Vacation – January 1, 2018
– Employees with more than five (5) years’ service with an employer are entitled to three (3) weeks’ vacation.

Personal Emergency Leave / Paid Sick Days – January 1, 2018
– Ten (10) Personal Emergency Leave days for all employees (not just those working for large employers).
– Two (2) of the ten (10) Personal Emergency Leave days will be paid, the rest unpaid.
– Employers will not be allowed to ask for a Doctor’s note from an employee taking Personal Emergency Leave.

Holiday Pay Calculation – January 1, 2018
– New formula for the calculation of holiday pay for part-time and casual employees
– The new formula is: Sum of regular wages earned/number of days worked in preceding pay period
o i.e. an employee works 1, 8-hour day in the preceding pay period of the Holiday, that employee is entitled to 8 hours of public holiday pay.

Equal Pay for Equal Work (Part-time, Casual, Seasonal, Temporary) – April 1, 2018
– Employees that perform substantially the same kind of work, in the same establishment, that requires substantially the same skill, effort and responsibility; and is performed under similar working conditions, must be paid the same regardless of their status.
– If a part-time, casual, seasonal or temporary employee believes they aren’t receiving equal pay as their full-time counterparts, they can question their employer.
o The Employer is required to respond in writing
– Also applies to employees hired through a temporary help agency.
– Exceptions – seniority system, merit systems, or pay that is determined by quantity or quality of production.

Independent Contractor Classification – November 27, 2017
– Employers must be sure that their Independent Contractors are, indeed Independent Contractors, not Dependent. Penalties will follow for Employers who misclassify.
– Independent contractors can challenge their status and the onus of proof is shifted to the company to prove that person is not an employee.

Scheduling and Minimum Pay – January 1, 2019
– Employees will have the right to request schedule or location changes without reprisal. – Minimum 3 hours pay at regular rate of pay when an employee reports to work.
– Employees will have the right to refuse a shift if they receive less than 4 days’ notice of said shift.
– Minimum 3 hours pay if a shift is shortened or cancelled.

On-Call Pay – January 1, 2019
– Minimum 3 hours pay for each day on-call and not called in.

Crown Employees – January 1, 2018
– Crown Employees are now included in the ESA Hours of Work, Overtime Pay, Minimum Wages, Public Holidays & Vacation with Pay provisions.

Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave – January 1, 2018
– Employees with at least 13 weeks of service can take up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave per calendar year.
o Up to 10 days of the leave can be taken in full or half days, 5 of these days will be paid.
o Up to 15 weeks (or partial weeks) can be taken as well

Maternity & Parental Leave – December 3, 2017
– Increase from 6 to 12 weeks for mothers who suffer a still-birth or miscarriage (January 1, 2018)
– Parental Leave increase from 37 to 63 weeks for adoptive parent or spouse.
– Birth Mother combined leave extended from 12 months to 18 months
– Changes align with changes in Employment Insurance pay for maternity and parental leave.

Critical Illness Leave – December 3, 2017
– Previously known as Critically Ill Child Care Leave
– Employees are entitled up to 37 weeks in a 52-week period to provide care or support to a critically ill child who is under 18 years of age
– Employees are entitled to up to 17 weeks in a 52-week period to provide care or support to a critically ill adult who is a family member

As a result of these changes a full-scale review will be necessary for organizations. Some of the following areas need to be considered:
• Financial impact analyzed;
• Policy manuals and procedures reviewed and updated;
• Scheduling processes reviewed and adapted;
• Collective Agreements reviewed and updated;
• Pay structures and salary grids reviewed to adapt minimum wage requirements and address wage compression issues; and
• Leadership, payroll, finance and HR teams trained.

Are you ready for these changes?

Pesce & Associates is working with clients that are planning ahead to ensure they are fully compliant with the upcoming changes now that Bill 148 has received Royal Assent. We are making presentations to business leaders on the impact of the changes and what you need to consider. Please reach out to your Pesce Senior Consultant or our Managing Partner, Elizabeth Hill at 416.491.1501 ext. 23 or ehill@pesceassociates.com to discuss how we can help.

For more information on our services, please visit our website at www.pesceassociates.com.