2019 ILC adopts Convention on violence, harassment at workplace


International Labour Conference (ILC)

International Labour Conference (ILC)

A new Convention and accompanying Recommendation to combat violence and harassment in the world of work have been adopted by the International Labour Conference (ILC).

The Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, and Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 were adopted by delegates on the final day of the Centenary of ILO on Friday in Geneva, Switzerland.

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General said the standard covers violence and harassment occurring in the workplace.

According to him, this include 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.

“Others are work-related communications (including through information and communication technologies), in employer-provided accommodation; and when commuting to and from work. It also recognises that violence and harassment may involve third parties,” he said.

Ryder said the new standards recognise the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment.

“All the the next step is to put these protections into practice so that we create a better, safer, decent, working environment for women and men.

“I am sure that, given the co-operation and solidarity we have seen on this issue, and the public demand for action, we will see speedy and widespread ratifications and action to implement,” he said.

Also Mr Manuela Tomei, Director of the ILO’s Work Quality Department, said: “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.

“We now have an agreed definition of violence and harassment. We know 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.

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“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.

“This is the first new Convention agreed by the International Labour Conference since 2011, when the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) was adopted. Conventions are legally binding international instruments, while Recommendations provide advice and guidance,” he added.

439 votes were cast in favour of the Convention, while seven were against, with 30 abstentions.

The Recommendation was passed with 397 votes in favour, 12 votes against and 44 abstentions.

The Convention defines “violence and harassment” as behaviours, practices or threats “that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.”

It reminds member States that they have a responsibility to promote a “general environment of zero tolerance”.

The new international labour standard aims to protect workers and employees, irrespective of their contractual status, and includes persons in training, interns and apprentices, workers whose employment has been terminated, volunteers, job seekers and job applicants.

It recognises that “individuals exercising the authority, duties or responsibilities of an employer” can also be subjected to violence and harassment.

“The new standards recognise the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment.”

The Centenary ILC of the 108th meeting of the Conference was attended by more than 5,700 delegates, representing governments, workers and employers from the ILO’s 187 member States.

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