BILL 168 RESOURCES FOR YOUR CHILD CARE PROGRAM
 


Useful Bill 168 Links
http://www.wsib.on.ca/http://www.ccohs.ca/http://www.osach.ca/
 
The Insurance Implications of Bill 168
By: Deborah Gibson, My School Program Manager, CCV Insurance & Financial Services
June 15th, 2010 was the deadline by which the law required employers to comply with Bill 168.  Employers need to understand their duties with respect to all workplaces covered under these Occupational Health and Safety Act Amendments to prevent workplace violence. Once your workplace protocols and procedures are refined, your insurance protection should respond to defend you as well, but beware: specific coverage does need to be purchased or your child care centre will now have a major exposure that could become YOUR major problem! Workplace violence is defined as the "exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker”. It also can be a statement or behavior that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker and, or, also engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. Harassment can also include bullying, intimidating or offensive jokes or innuendos, displaying or circulating offensive pictures or materials, or offensive or intimidating phone calls.Abuse "limitation endorsements” coverage attached to the commercial liability section of commercial policies does NOT include coverage for this! These endorsements, whether claims made or occurrence, typically refer to your behavior management policies towards the children in your care and the protocols you have in place training your teachers in managing children--in other words, child abuse coverage for civil defense and award settlement. Most, if not all, commercial liability policies also include an "intentional acts” exclusion which harassment and violence typically falls under by definition. What do you need to do to protect yourself as an employer? Employment Practices Liability is an extension of coverage that insures against "wrongful acts” alleged or that have been committed by any "insureds” where the "insured person” or "corporation” shall be legally obligated to pay. This coverage is usually purchased as an endorsement to Directors & Officers Liability which also includes broad coverage for wrongful acts. Harrassment , discrimination, humiliation, defamation or invasion of privacy are included in the definitions as well as other employment issues. The ADCO My School Insurance Product not only now allows this coverage endorsement as part of the Directors & Officers Liability but now, NEW for 2010, provides this as an extension of Errors & Omissions Liability coverage for those organizations not run by a Board of Directors.With the new Human Rights Tribunals "overwhelmed” with caseloads and providing a mechanism whereby employees can easily launch a lawsuit without the detractor of legal fees, your organization needs defense coverage as well as coverage that can respond. To learn more, please visit http://www.ccvinsurance.com/. This literature is descriptive only. The precise coverage afforded is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy issued. CCV Insurance & Financial Services Inc. is the exclusive administrator of the My School program.
 

Compliance With Bill 168 Takes More Than Just A Policy
By: Paddi Riopelle CHRP, HR Off-Site Human Resources Solutions

Bill 168 is an amendment to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act that was designed to reduce workplace violence and harassment. While licensed child care centres are not generally considered a high-risk environment, they are employers and are therefore obligated to comply with the legislation. While many licensed child care centres have already taken steps to ensure their existing workplace policy manuals are revised to include procedures for reporting, investigating and responding to incidents of violence or harassment, it takes more than just a carefully worded policy to achieve full compliance with Bill 168. The Ministry of Labour views compliance as having a program in place that covers policies and procedures, trains employees and demonstrates the knowledge that the employer has on the risks of violence in his or her workplace.

Assessing & Minimizing Your Risk
As an employer, you have a responsibility to do a comprehensive inventory of the sources of risk your employees face. All licensed child care programs face some level of risk simply due to the fact that they deal with children, most of their employees are women, and their facilities open and close at times when passersby and traffic may be at a minimum. Another point of risk may be the location of your facility and its proximity to other establishments such as banks or bars. Take a walk through and around your facility and in the neighbourhood nearby, with an eye to potential sources of violence. Jot down your observations and consider measures you could take to address each problem area. Also, be sure to look at any history of incidents in your workplace and benchmark your program to your industry as a whole.

Other sources of risk could include parents, who may be involved in emotionally charged situations such as custody disputes, job losses, and so forth. Review your files and try to understand each family's situation. Be sure to consult with your staff team to make sure there aren't any additional risk factors that you may have overlooked. You should also consult with other licensed child care owner/operators to make sure your policies are similar to theirs

Additionally, you'll need to review your staff records and to ascertain if anyone on your staff team may be a source of risk. Since workers in licensed child care are required to have a valid criminal reference check prior to employment, the risks in this regard are more likely to be the result of medical conditions or domestic partners than from an individual employee's predisposition to violence. No matter the source of the risk, you need to be able to demonstrate that you have done everything within your power to identify it and to take reasonable action to mitigate it.

Some mitigation measures are obvious, such as ensuring that facility doors are kept locked during the day. However, you may also need to use more subtle measures as well, such as having a centre code of conduct for all parents and staff that requires them to serve as positive role models for the children—ie: no profanity, no yelling, no talking about people behind their backs, etc. These types of things as well as many others need to be articulated in your Violence and Harassment Prevention Policies and Procedures. Because things are always changing, your violence and harassment prevention program needs ongoing monitoring and updating. Regular reviews show you how well your program is working and help identify any necessary changes.

Policies & Procedures
To some extent, the specifics of your Violence and Harassment Prevention Policies and Procedures will be dictated by the risk factors you've identified. Regardless of the specifics, your workplace violence policies and procedures need to be in writing (for workplaces with more than five employees), known to all employees and be readily accessible to all staff, should they need to refer to them. It is particularly important that you outline what the process is for staff to report their concerns and to whom they should report them. They also need to know such reports will be held in confidence. Additionally, your policy should spell out that it is everyone's duty to report their concerns, even if they are not the victim. This is especially important in suspected cases of domestic violence. Each member of your staff team needs to know the signs and be prepared to report them. Managers and supervisors need to understand and to be able to communicate what community resources are available to support the victim.

Your policy manual also needs to be clear about how matters will be investigated and who is responsible for conducting and recording the findings of the investigation. It's a good idea to designate someone to serve as the workplace harassment and violence prevention coordinator and to have someone trained in how to conduct workplace investigations. The same person can perform both roles.

Training
Staff training regarding Bill 168 and the prevention of workplace violence and harassment includes everyone, but is absolutely essential for anyone with supervisory responsibilities. More specifically, your centre needs to establish an in-house program and protocol for dealing with potential sources of workplace violence and harassment. There are actually benefits to doing this that go beyond simply making your workplace safer. By making it clear that things like gossiping are unacceptable in your workplace, you may even notice reduced staff stress levels and absenteeism.

Professional Support
There are a number of provisions in Bill 168 that may pose risks for employers. The area of domestic violence is one of them. Another is the area of requirement to disclose potential risks posed by an employee with a history of violence while maintaining confidentiality. Parts of Bill 168 seem to be in conflict with privacy-related decisions by the Human Rights Commission. It is likely that these conflicts will ultimately be adjudicated through the court system. To be certain that your Violence and Harassment Prevention Policies and Procedures are adequately detailed and appropriate for your situation, always have them reviewed by a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) or a lawyer who specializes in labour law.

Paddi Riopelle is the President of HR Off-Site, a human resources consulting firm that specializes in practical, affordable solutions for small businesses. She was also one of the featured speakers at the ADCO 2010 Spring Conference. You may contact her directly at: paddir@hroffsite.ca 

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