The Minister of Employment and Labour has, under the Employment Equity Act, published the final Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace (The Code) on 18 March 2022 (the draft Code had been published for comments in August 2020), and repealed the Code on handling Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (2005)..
The Code identifies steps that employers and employees must take to eliminate and prevent harassment and violence in the workplace. The Code applies to all industries and organizations, regardless of size. In this post, I’ll explain how The Code will affect your organization, and provide guidelines on what you can do next.
What This Means for You
The Code creates a greater obligation on employers to prevent, eliminate and manage violence and harassment in the workplace. The Code highlights four “main forms” of Violence and Harassment, namely; (1) Sexual violence and harassment, (2) Racial, ethnic, and social origin violence and harassment, (3) Violence and harassment on account of a protected disclosure (whistleblowing) and (4) Workplace Bullying.
The following examples of harassment are mentioned in The Code:
- slandering or maligning an employee,
- conduct which humiliates, insults or demeans an employee
- Sabotaging or impending work performance
- Ostracizing, boycotting or excluding the employee from work related activities
- Threats and inspiring fear and degradation
- Intolerance of psychological, medical or personal conditions
- Use of disciplinary actions without an objective cause or efforts to problem solving
- Demotion without justification
- Passive aggressive behavior (Sarcasm, negative joking, condescending eye contact, gestures mimicking to ridicule, causing embarrassment and insecurity)
- Online harassment (done through the use of technology, e.g. phones, texts, emails, social media, etc.)
What You Can Do Now
The Code provides seven “Guiding Principles” to guide the implementation of strategies to prevent and eliminate violence and harassment in the workplace, namely:
- All workplaces should be free of violence and harassment.
- Employers are responsible for providing information, instructions, and training to ensure a safe working environment that is free of violence and harassment.
- Processes and Procedures should be created so that complainants affected by violence and harassment may bring a complaint without fear of reprisal and with the assurance that their complaints will not be trivialized or ignored.
- Employers and Employees are required to proactively refrain from committing acts of violence and harassment.
- Employers and employees have a role to play towards creating and maintaining a working environment in which violence and harassment is not tolerated.
- Employers and employees should attempt to ensure that any persons dealing with the employer are not subjected to violence and harassment; and
- Employers and employees should take appropriate actions when instances of violence and harassment occur in the workplace
In order to eliminate and prevent violence and harassment in the workplace, employers should use the seven guiding principles mentioned in The Code. Another thing that employers should do, is that they should implement the necessary policies and procedures and ensure that all their employees are aware of their obligation to ensure a safe working environment that is free of violence and harassment.
Should you require assistance in ensuring that your organization is compliant with the requirements of the Code, please do not hesitate to contact me.