The Prevention and Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the Workplacesuzette
The “Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the Workplace”, published by South African Minister of Employment and Labour, TW Nxesi, became effective on the 18th of March 2022. The Minister has, simultaneously, repealed the “Amended Code of Good Practice on the Handling of Sexual Harassment Cases in the Workplace”. An article published by law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer, explained the greater obligation that the Code places on employers to counteract the devastating effects of violence and harassment in the workplace.
A few interesting points made within the Code, are:
- Four “main forms” of violence and harassment have been highlighted, namely:
- Sexual violence and harassment
- Racial, ethnic, and social origin violence and harassment
- Violence and harassment on account of a protected disclosure (whistleblowing)
- Workplace bullying
- A more extensive list of definitions for the various forms of conduct that may constitute violence and harassment in the workplace has been added to the Code. For the first time in South African legislation, the Code defines a few terms, including “cyber bullying, mobbing, and victimisation”. The definition of sexual harassment has also been shortened to “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that violets the rights of an employee”, while taking the following into account:
- Whether the harassment is on the prohibited grounds of sex and/or gender and/or sexual orientation;
- Whether the sexual conduct was unwelcome;
- The nature and extent of the sexual conduct; and
- The impact of the sexual conduct on the employee
- Further, the Code also extended the application of perpetrators and victims of harassment to non-employees, including suspended workers, workers whose employment have been terminated, persons in training, and retains the catch-all of “others having dealings with the organisation”
- Item 5 in the Code gives “Guiding Principles” which guide the implementation of strategies to prevent and eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work.
It is important for employers to note that violence and harassment in the workplace goes further than sexual harassment as the Code requires employers to implement measures to combat all forms of violence and harassment in the workplace.
Internal policies and procedures in respect of violence and harassment in the workplace have to be reviewed and amended to ensure that all employees are protected.
Contact Joubert & Associates to provide expert assistance in making such amendments.