EOHCB: Harassment at the Workplace
Each individual should be treated with dignity and respect at work. Harassment of any kind is in no one’s interest and should not be tolerated at the workplace. This document has been compiled to offer guidelines to employers and employees to help avoid harassment.
What is harassment?
Harassment is an act or omission (or more than one act or omission) directed towards an individual at the workplace that is unwelcome, unwanted and has a destructive effect. Examples of harassment are -
spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone, particularly on gender, race or disability grounds;
ridiculing or degrading someone – picking on them or setting them up to fail;
exclusion or victimisation;
unfair treatment, for example based on race, gender sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, disability, religion, HIV status, etc.;
overbearing supervision or other misuses of power or position;
unwelcome sexual advances – touching, standing too close and displaying of offensive material;
making threats/comments about job security without foundation;
deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading and constant criticism; and
preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities.
Employers have a duty to protect their workers from harassment and to inform and educate them about this issue. Employers are encouraged to develop a code of conduct on harassment. This can be done in consultation with employees and employee representatives.
Harassment is one of the issues that are protected by the law, it is recognised as form of unfair discrimination if it can be linked to a listed or arbitrary ground of discrimination.
Harassment is not only unacceptable on moral grounds, but may create problems for an organisation including—
violating human rights;
poor morale and poor employee relations;
threatening the physical, psychological performance of employees;
resulting in unexplained absenteeism, late coming and poor concentration at work; and
creating a hostile, intimidating and offensive work environment which can lead to loss of productivity and worker resignations.
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