Convention No. 190 requires States to “adopt laws and regulations to define and prohibit violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment” (Art. 7). Defining and prohibiting violence and harassment in work-related legislation often fills a void in the law because such behaviours have often gone under the radar for so long. While a definition in law and regulations is key for interpretation purposes, only a prohibition can have a particular effect on conduct, and could lead to behaviours that produce change in practice, thereby protecting individuals and effectively preventing violence and harassment.
Box 12. Prohibiting violence and harassment in work-related legislation and regulations: Some recent examples
In recent years, a growing number of countries have introduced specific definitions and prohibitions of violence and harassment, or some of its forms, in work-related legislation, as explained in Chapter 2 (in particular section 2.1). While some of these prohibitions are still directed only at employers, others have a more general scope of protection and prohibit violence and harassment per se.
Albania: The new section 32(3) of the 2015 Labour Code prohibits employers from harassing workers with the purpose of, or resulting in, the degradation of working conditions to a degree that may result in a violation of the rights and dignity of the worker, damage the worker’s health, or inflict physical or mental damage to a worker’s future professional career.
Georgia: Article 6 of the 2014 Law on Gender Equality explicitly prohibits
- harassment and/or coercion of a person with the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, degrading, or offensive environment;
- any unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical behaviour of sexual nature with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
Hong Kong, China: Section 22A(1) of the Disability Harassment Ordinance prohibitsdisability harassment in the workplace as follows: “It is unlawful for a person who is a workplace participant to harass a person with a disability who is also a workplace participant at a workplace of them both.”
Liberia: Section 2.8 (Prohibition of sexual harassment) of the 2015 Decent Work Act provides as follows:
a. A person shall not directly or indirectly sexually harass a worker:
- in any employment practice; or
- in the course of a person’s employment.
Niger: Article 122 of Decree No. 2017-682/PRN/MET/PS in regulation of the Labour Code provides as follows: “Sexual harassment, in the context of the performance of the employment contract, which consists of obtaining from others by order, intimidation, act, gesture, threat or coercion, favours of a sexual nature, as well as any other conduct of a sexual nature, with the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or humiliating working environment for a person, is prohibited.”
North Macedonia: Article 3(3) of the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, states as follows: “Discrimination,harassmentand sexual harassment on the grounds of gender shall be prohibited in the public and private sector in the spheres of employment and labour”.
Romania: following the provisions of Government Ordinance No. 137/2020, a new paragraph has been added to article 6 of Law No 202/2002 on equal opportunities and treatment between women and men. The new paragraph 1.2 states as follows: “Moral harassment in the workplace on the basis of sex is prohibited.”
Canada (Yukon Territory): The Occupational Safety and Health Act, as amended in 2020, mandates workplace policy to include a statement that “violence and harassmentin the workplace is prohibited”.