The federal government is embarking on a regulatory overhaul to crack down on harassment in federal workplaces, from Parliament Hill to local bank branches. New legislation unveiled Tuesday is aimed at giving workers and their employers a clear course of action to better deal with allegations of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment, exerting more pressure on companies to combat unacceptable behaviour and punish those who don't take it seriously. The changes will merge separate labour standards for sexual harassment and violence and subject them to the same scrutiny and dispute resolution process, which could include having an outside investigator brought in to review allegations. 'Room for better legislation' to deal with sexual harassment, minister says Government consultation hears women in workplace under-report harassment for fear of retaliation The proposed rules would also enforce strict privacy rules to protect the victims of harassment or violence. Once passed, the legislation would also allow anyone unhappy with how their dispute is being handled to complain to the federal labour minister, who could step in to investigate and order sanctions for employers. "Smart employers already take action. They already have comprehensive regulations and policies. They already protect their employees from harassment and sexual violence," Labour Minister Patty Hajdu told a news conference. "What this (legislation) will compel is those other employers that are not taking it as seriously and not putting forward the protections that every person has the right to in the workplace." Could take a year before rules come into effect The rules would, once they come into force, apply to all federally regulated workplaces, such as banks, telecommunications and transport industries, representing about eight per cent of the national labour force. The Liberals want the rules to apply to politicians, their staff and other Parliament Hill employees, warning of dire repercussions for any MP or senator who flouts the rules. Department officials say it could take a year or more before the rules come into effect, since regulations would have to be crafted once the bill receives