The Centenary International Labour Conference has adopted a new Convention and Recommendation to combat violence and harassment in the workplace. The Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, and Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 , were adopted by delegates on the final day of the Centenary International Labour Conference, in Geneva.
The Convention will enter into force 12 months after two member States have ratified it. The Recommendation, which is not legally binding, provides guidelines on how the Convention could be applied.
For the Convention, 439 votes were cast in favour, seven against, with 30 abstentions. The Recommendation was passed with 397 votes in favour, 12 votes against and 44 abstentions.
According to the Convention ‘violence and harassment in the world of work can constitute a human rights violation or abuse…is a threat to equal opportunities, is unacceptable and incompatible with decent work.’
Moreover, the Convention defines violence and harassment as behaviours, practices or threats that ‘that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.’
The Convention was launched aiming to protect employees and workers, while also includes persons in training, interns and apprentices, workers whose employment has been terminated, volunteers, job seekers and job applicants. In addition, it sees that individuals exercising the authority, duties or responsibilities of an employer can also be subjected to violence and harassment.
The new standards recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment.
Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, commented.
More specifically, the Standard covers:
- violence and harassment occurring in the workplace;
- places where a worker is paid, takes a rest or meal break, or uses sanitary, washing or changing facilities;
- during work-related trips, travel, training, events or social activities;
- work-related communications (including through information and communication technologies), in employer-provided accommodation; and when commuting to and from work.
It also recognizes that violence and harassment may involve third parties.
In light of this achievement, Manuela Tomei, Director of the ILO’s Workquality Department, highlighted
Without respect, there is no dignity at work, and, without dignity, there is no social justice. This is the first time that a Convention and Recommendation on violence and harassment in the world of work have been adopted.
She continued that the Convention provides a clear definition of violence and harassment; Now, everyone knows what needs to be done to prevent and address it, and by whom. We hope these new standards will lead us into the future of work we want to see.
Conventions are legally binding international instruments, while Recommendations provide advice and guidance.
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