CEE urges employers to act on GBV

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) has urged government departments and the private sector to implement measures that will prevent violence and harassment from manifesting in the workplace and society.

In a statement, Commission chairperson Tabea Kabinde made the plea in the wake of a spate of gender-based violence attacks across the country.

“We note that each member of our society has an important responsibility to promote a safe society free of violence and harassment. The CEE promotes a zero-tolerance approach and urges everyone to facilitate the elimination and prevention of such behaviour and practices. The CEE condemns acts of violence and harassment in homes, communities, workplaces and society as whole,” she said.

Labour laws such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Employment Equity Act, she said, directly and indirectly address harassment.

“These laws and codes are very clear on legal obligations on employers and employees in creating safe working environments free from violence and harassment,” she said.  

In the statement, the CEE commends the International Labour Organization (ILO) for having adopted a new ILO Violence and Harassment Convention. It is supplemented by a Recommendation at the June 2019 International Labour Conference. The CEE said it will be advising the Minister of Employment and Labour to recommend to NEDLAC and Parliament the ratification of this ILO Convention as a matter of urgency.

As part of the preparations for readiness, the CEE is currently reviewing the current EE policy instruments with the aim of developing a comprehensive Code of Good Practice on the elimination of violence and harassment in the World of Work, in order to ensure full alignment with the ILO Convention. It is envisaged that this new Code will be published for implementation by June 2020.

The scourge of violence and harassment, Kabinde said, does not only manifest in communities, but in the world of work – an alarming emerging phenomenon worldwide, which requires immediate intervention.

“The Commission submits that the effects of violence and harassment affect a person’s psychological, emotional, physical, dignity, family and social environment. Notably, violence and harassment are incompatible with the promotion of sustainable enterprises and impact negatively on the organisation of work, workplace relations, worker engagements, enterprise reputation, and on productivity,” she said.  

She added that employers have a duty to ensure a safe working environment free of discrimination for all employees.

“The costs associated with discrimination and workplace violence include reduced efficiency and productivity, the deterioration of product quality, and affecting the brand reputation of a company. The CEE believes that all employers should institute proactive action and ensure all employees are aware of its policies and procedures in understanding and managing harassment in the work place," she said. – SAnews.gov.za