The Minister of Employment and Labour has published the new Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace in terms of the Employment Equity Act (EEA). The Code became effective on the 18th of March 2022. The “Harassment Code” is intended to address the prevention, elimination and management of violence and harassment that comprise the world of work, guided and supported by the International Labour Organisation’s relevant Conventions.
The Harassment Code defines harassment more clearly and recognises that harassment includes the impairment of dignity, creating a hostile environment, violence, physical abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, gender-based abuse, and racial abuse. It includes using physical force or power, whether threatened or actual, against another person or a group or community. Further, the connection of factors such as race, religion, gender, identification of LGBTQIA+ or disability increases the risk of harassment in the workplace.
- The Harassment Code applies to all employers and employees irrespective of whether they operate in the formal or informal sector.
- The Harassment Code makes it clear that the protection of employees against harassment applies in any situation in which the employee is working, or which is related to their work. This means that harassment does not only occur when employees are on duty at the physical workplace but extends to work-related trips, training or social activities, work-related communications, employer-provided accommodation, or the location of employees who are required to work virtually, amongst others.
- Employers have an obligation to take practical and proactive steps to prevent and remediate all forms of harassment in the workplace. Employers should implement an appropriate policy addressing harassment, implement awareness-raising efforts and conduct training to educate employees about the various forms of harassment.
How will this impact your business?
In line with the SIZA principal code on discrimination, harassment and abuse, during third-party audits, it will be verified whether every person in the business is free from all forms of harassment by both colleagues, supervisors and management. Therefore, it is essential that everyone in the business understands this new Harassment Code as it speaks to the responsibility of everyone, employees, supervisors, and management, to ensure that any form of harassment is removed in the business. For example: if an employee is being harassed at their employee accommodation by other employees, regardless of whether it is outside of working hours, the fact that management is responsible for the employees’ accommodation would mean that there must be evidence that proactive measures have been put in place to mitigate these activities.
Examples of harassment in the workplace can include derogatory jokes, personal insults, intolerance of another person, racial slurs, or name-calling that negatively impacts another person. Management must put remediation measures in place, such as training for all employees, practical examples of what harassment in the workplace can look like, and how everyone in the business should work together to resolve it.