International Labour Standards

North Macedonia ratifies ILO Convention 190 on Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the world of work

Following the Macedonian Parliament ratification of ILO Convention 190 on Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the World of Work in June 2023, North Macedonia deposited the instrument of ratification of the Convention with the Director-General of the ILO on 20 October. The country is the ninth in Europe to ratify the Convention, which ensures dignity and respect for all workers.

News | 20 October 2023
Teuta Agai-Demjaha, Permanent Representative of North Macedonia to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Gilbert F. Houngbo, ILO Director-General signing the ratification of Convention 190. 
ILO Convention No. 190 is a landmark instrument. It is the first international labour standard to address violence and harassment in the world of work. The Convention affirms that everyone has the right to a workplace free from abuse. It provides the first internationally agreed definition of violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence. The Convention defines violence and harassment as “a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices” that “aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm”. This definition covers everyone who is working, including interns or apprentices, persons who exercise the duties or authority of an employer, the public and private sectors, the formal and informal economies, as well as urban and rural areas.

The ILO's global report on violence and harassment at work¹ shows that violence and harassment at work is a widespread phenomenon, with 22.8 per cent of persons in employment having experienced at least one form of violence and harassment at work during their working life. In Europe and Central Asia, women are more affected, with 30 per cent having experienced violence and harassment in their working life (compared to 22 per cent of men). Moreover, women and men experience violence and harassment at work differently. While physical violence and harassment affects more men than women (6.8 per cent vs 6.2 per cent), more women than men have experienced psychological (22.7 per cent vs 17.4 per cent) and sexual (9.1 per cent vs 2.5 per cent) violence and harassment at work. Likewise, the report pinpoints that victims of gender-based discrimination are more likely to face violence and harassment at work.

There is very limited information on the prevalence of violence and harassment in the world of work in North Macedonia. A 2019 study² highlights that gender-based discrimination at work affects women more than men and is more prevalent in the private sector. The online survey carried out as part of this study suggests that only 47 per cent of participants with primary or incomplete primary education know that gender-based discrimination is against the law. Among those workers that had experienced gender-based discrimination, 85 per cent said that they did not contact any official institution. Of the victims of sexual harassment, only 10 per cent reported it to their manager, 4 per cent to an official reporting mechanism at their workplace and 1 per cent to the police.

“The ratification of ILO Convention 190 is leading us to change the perception of violence and harassment at work or related to work and highlights the importance of establishing adequate policies to identify and prevent violence and harassment. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but the benefits of the application of the Convention will be priceless, since they concern human dignity”- asserted Jovanka Trenchevska, Minister of Labour and Social Policy of North Macedonia.

Minister Trenchevska explained that following the ratification of C190, the government will work on aligning the existing legislation with the requirements of the Convention, starting by drafting and enacting a new Law on Prevention and Protection against Violence and Harassment at work. Furthermore, the implementation of the National Strategy on Gender Equality 2022- 2027 and the drafting of the second National Action Plan on Gender Equality 2025-2027 in 2024 will take the Convention in consideration with regard to actions and measures related to gender-based violence, since it recognizes and defines the specifics of gender-based violence and harassment.

The ILO assisted the ratification process by providing technical assistance for the elaboration of the analysis of the alignment of Macedonian legislation with ILO Convention 190. This analysis was validated in a tripartite meeting organized by the ILO in April 2022. Moreover, the Economic and Social Council, Trade Unions, Employers organisations, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the State Labour Inspectorate joined the campaign “For workplaces free of violence and harassment - ratify ILO Convention 190”.

In preparation for the implementation of the Convention, the ILO promoted various tools to prepare the tripartite constituents to apply the provisions of the Convention. Notably, it has translated into Macedonian the “ILO Guide on C190”and the “Violence and harassment at work: A practical guide for employers”. Furthermore, the ILO is currently working with the tripartite constituents to develop and pilot-test online tools to assess psychosocial risk factors associated with violence and harassment. These tools will be tested in September 2023 in three enterprises and made available for the employers and workers later in the year.

[1] ILO, Experiences of violence and harassment at work: A global first survey. Geneva, 2022.
[2] Gender-based discrimination and labour in North Macedonia, Reactor - Research in Action, Skopje, 2019.