As someone who’s done a fair amount of work in the area of employee communications, and therefore who’s worked closely with HR functions, I’m intrigued by one of the challenges faced by Bill 168. On the one hand, it is meant to create safer workplaces for employees, whether it’s protecting them from violence or harassment in the workplace by other employees, or from domestic abuse which spills over into the workplace. Spurred in part by the murder of a Windsor nurse in 2005 (by her ex-boyfriend while she was at work) Bill 168 takes a significant leap forward in the area of workplace violence and harassment.
Amongst other things, my understanding is that employers must now disclose an employee’s history of violent behaviour to co-workers, and employers are now somewhat on the hook for managing the spill-over effect of domestic violence in the workplace, which also requires disclosing details of this domestic violence to fellow co-workers who could be at risk if it did in fact spill over into the workplace.
I’m all for creating a safe environment for employees, but I’m curious to see how employers will manage balancing safety with privacy, especially since the issue of privacy has been such a focal point in pretty much all areas of life and work. I guess this is a situation where safety trumps privacy. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out and how all parties feel – the employers, the employees whose histories are made public (whether it’s their own violent behaviour or being a victim of domestic violence), and the co-workers who are made aware of these details.
I guess this is when I say I’m glad I’m a communications professional and not a human resources professional…although it does present some interesting communications challenges.