In a December 2023 update, we informed you of changes proposed by the government in Bill 42, An Act to prevent and fight psychological harassment and sexual violence in the workplace (the Act). Following a consultation period and a detailed analysis by a parliamentary committee during which several amendments were made, the bill received assent last March 27. This update describes the main provisions already in force, and some yet to come. 

Provisions in force as of March 27, 2024

New mandatory training for grievances arbitrators: An arbitrator may only hear a grievance concerning psychological harassment if he or she has received training on sexual violence according to conditions determined by the labour minister after having consulted the Comité consultatif du travail et de la main-d’œuvre. 

Definition of sexual violence: Section 1 of the Act respecting occupational health and safety (AOHS) now includes the 

“sexual violence” means any form of violence targeting sexuality or any other misconduct, including unwanted gestures, practices, comments, behaviours or attitudes with sexual connotations, whether they occur once or repeatedly, including violence relating to sexual and gender diversity.”

Preventing psychological harassment “from any person”: Since March 27, employers have the explicit obligation to prevent and put a stop to harassment “from any person,” which could include a client or a provider. 

What is more, an employer that fails to fulfill his legal obligations to prevent and manage psychological harassment, including failure to adopt a policy, is now guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of $600 to $6,000 for a first offence, and $1,200 to $12,000 for any subsequent conviction.

Limited application of amnesty clauses: A new provision has been adopted that limits the effects of amnesty clauses in cases of violence in the work environment. It is now explicitly provided that an employer may take into account disciplinary measures previously imposed on an employee for misconduct relating to physical or psychological violence, including sexual violence, when imposing a new measure for such misconduct, and this despite the existence of an amnesty clause providing for the repeal of a previously imposed measure after a certain amount of time.

Imputing the costs of an employment injury: The cost of benefits due to an employment injury resulting from sexual violence is imputed to the employers of all the units. Note Bill 42 no longer provides exceptions for sexual violence committed by an employer, a representative of the employer in his relations with his workers or an executive officer of the employer in the case of a legal person. This amendment was adopted to avoid an overly litigious approach in such matters.

Provisions in force starting September 27, 2024

Contents of policies to prevent and manage situations of psychological harassment: One of the most significant changes to the Act is a detailed list of the elements that policies to prevent and manage situations of psychological harassment are now required to contain – from available training and inquiry processes, to the confidentiality of complaints or report processing. Employers would therefore be well advised to revise their policies as soon as possible to ensure they comply with this new provision before it comes into force. Employers that fail to adopt a compliant policy risk facing fines. 

Extension of time limit for filing a claim for employment injuries or occupational diseases: As we previously reported, the time limit for filing a claim with the CNESST for an employment injury or occupational disease resulting from sexual violence will be extended by six months to two years. 

New presumptions regarding employment injuries or occupational diseases: New presumptions will be coming into force to alleviate the burden of proof placed on workers:

  • If a worker suffers from sexual violence committed by an employer, or any of the employer’s executive officers in the case of a legal person or a work colleague, the employment injury or occupational disease resulting from this violence will be presumed to have “arisen out of” or “in the course of” the worker’s work. 

Note the Act no longer requires the violence to be committed by a colleague from the same establishment and no longer provides for an exception for violence arising in a “strictly private” context.

  • Any disease arising within three months after the worker suffered sexual violence at the workplace will be presumed to be an “employment injury.” 

Offences in cases of access to medical records: With regard to the medical records held by the CNESST regarding a worker’s occupational disease, the new provisions limit what information a health professional designated by an employer may communicate to that employer. Any information disclosed must only give the employer a summary of the record and an opinion to enable it to exercise its rights. 

The unlawful disclosure of information by a health professional, or the obtaining of (or attempt to obtain) a medical record by an employer will constitute offences punishable by a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000 in the case of natural persons, and $2,000 to $10,000 in the case of legal persons.

Provisions in force as of October 1, 2025

Occupational health and safety prevention program and action plan: When developing a prevention program or action plan under the Act to modernize the occupational health and safety regime, employers will need to include a policy to prevent and manage situations of psychological harassment referred to the Act respecting labour standards

The identification of psychosocial risks will need to consider risks related to sexual violence.

Regulation coming into force later

Measures preventing sexual violence: Although the obligation to prevent and put a stop to sexual violence is already integrated into the AOHS, Bill 42 provides that a regulation may specify what measures must be taken to satisfy this obligation. We will therefore be keeping an eye out for any draft regulation that may be tabled under this provision.


The coming into force of this Act forces employers to review their practices and policies aiming to prevent and manage psychological harassment and sexual violence in the workplace to ensure they comply with the Act’s new requirements, as failing to do so will likely result in material sanctions for them. 

In addition to the Act, the Quebec labour minister announced the creation of a specialized sexual violence team of judges and conciliators within the Administrative Labour Tribunal to help make the process easier for victims. This is another significant measure underscoring the government’s desire to provide safe and healthy workplaces while making it easier  for those who have been victimized by such behaviour to exercise the remedies available to them. We therefore encourage employers to proceed with caution and to act diligently in this regard.


Senior Associate

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