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Domestic violence, the obligation of employers

As of October 6, 2021, employers of Quebec must protect their employees from situations of domestic, family, or sexual violence that may occur in the workplace.

Domestic violence, the obligation of employers

Beyond domestic violence, which can have echoes in all workplaces, it is not uncommon to see that in some organizations, some employees have family ties.  These employers are therefore particularly vulnerable to the new legislation.

Section 51 of the Act respecting occupational health and safety

(16): take measures to ensure the protection of workers exposed in the workplace to physical or psychological violence, including spousal, family, or sexual violence.

For the purposes of subparagraph 16 of the first paragraph, in the case of a situation of spousal or family violence, the employer is required to take the measures when the employer knows or ought reasonably to know that the worker is exposed to such violence.

What measure are to be applied?

The employer will therefore have to put in place a policy on violence, including, if it has not already done so, the notion of spousal, family, or sexual violence.

The employer will be required to intervene by putting in place the means to protect its workers if these events occur in the context of work.

For example, the employer will have to intervene if two brothers or sisters employed by the same organization quarrel violently in the workplace, even if the subject of the dispute is not work-related.

Employers will also need to put measures in place to protect an employee who is a victim of domestic violence and receives threatening calls from his or her ex-spouse at work.

When violent events take place in the office, even if, at first glance, one might think that this is a personal matter for the employee concerned, the law requires the employer to intervene to protect the individual.

Here are some measures that can be put in place in your workplaces:

  • Panic button linked to the 911 central.
  • Individualized plan for the employee concerned, including a change of telephone number, interior and exterior cameras, locking of office doors, etc.


For all questions regarding the prevention of workplace violence, contact our team! It will be our pleasure to assist you in the integration of your new OHS obligations.

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