An ILO Code of Practice on safety and health in the agriculture sector is an example of a Code that covers sexual harassment and includes a model sexual harassment policy (see extract below). The aim is to raise awareness, prevent sexual harassment and promote positive behaviour in the workplace.
19.5. Workplace violence, harassment and bullying
19.5.1. Every person has the right to be treated with dignity and respect and to be free from all forms of violence, harassment, and bullying, in the workplace.
19.5.2. A safe and healthy working environment, in accordance with the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155), facilitates optimal physical and mental health in relation to work, and can help to prevent workplace violence and harassment. Promoting gender equality could help to reduce gender-based workplace violence and harassment. Sexual harassment at work is a human rights and sex discrimination issue, and has accordingly been examined in the light of the requirements of Convention No. 111. It is especially encountered by inexperienced younger women and men whose age and work position make them vulnerable. Sexual harassment is a hazard that lowers the quality of working life, jeopardizes the well-being of women and men, undermines gender equality and can have serious cost implications for firms and organizations.
19.5.3. Policy or action against workplace violence and harassment must be directed at promoting decent work and mutual respect, and combating discrimination at the workplace, in accordance with the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111).
19.5.4. The competent authority, employers, workers and their representatives should, in so far as reasonably practicable, cooperate in developing legislation and developing and implementing appropriate policies, procedures and workplace practices that help to eliminate all forms of workplace violence and harassment.
19.5.5. Employers should consult with workers and their representatives to develop and implement appropriate policies and procedures to eliminate or minimize the risk of workplace violence and harassment. These policies and procedures should include risk assessment and control strategies, the inclusion of provisions on the prevention of workplace violence and harassment in national, sectoral, and enterprise agreements, personnel policies to promote mutual respect and dignity at work, and grievance and disciplinary procedures.
19.5.6. Workers and their representatives should take all reasonable care to prevent, reduce and eliminate the risks associated with workplace violence and harassment. They should:
- cooperate with employers in OSH committees in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Recommendation, 1981 (No. 164);
- cooperate with employers to develop appropriate risk assessment strategies and prevention policies, paying particular attention to vulnerable workers;
- ensure that factors that increase the risk of workplace violence and harassment at particular worksites or when carrying out specific activities are addressed by workers and their health and safety representatives in consultation with employers; and
- report acts of workplace violence and harassment.
19.5.7. In conducting a risk assessment of workplace violence and harassment, account should be taken of the following signs of possible workplace tensions:
- incidents of physical assault leading to actual harm;
- intense or ongoing verbal abuse, including sexual innuendo, aggressive body language, threatening behaviour or the expression of the intent to cause harm; and
- high levels of absenteeism and personnel turnover, which are indicative of problems in the workplace.
19.5.8. Preventive measures concerning work practices should include consideration of:
- staffing levels and the composition of work teams;
- worksite location; and
- proximity to communications for isolated workers.
19.5.9. Appropriate medical treatment should be available, where required, to workers affected by workplace violence.
19.5.10. The competent authority, employers, workers and their representatives should act in collaboration to develop grievance and disciplinary procedures to deal with complaints of workplace violence and harassment. These procedures should include a fair and equitable process for the investigation and resolution of complaints.
19.5.11. The confidentiality of any information on workers exposed to or suffering from workplace violence or harassment should be ensured, in accordance with national laws and regulations.
Source: ILO (2010)