Questions & Answers

Guiding the COVID-19 response and recovery towards a better normal free from violence and harassment: The role of ILO Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) and Recommendation (No. 206)

Meeting document | 07 July 2020
  • How many countries have ratified the ILO Convention No. 190? Do countries have to ratify both instruments, Convention No. 190 and Recommendation No.206?
Convention No.190 and Recommendation No. 206 are International Labour Standards. Convention No.190 is a binding international treaty and, as such, needs to be ratified by member States in order to generate legal obligations. Recommendation No.206 is a non-binding instrument. It does not need to be ratified and provides more detailed guidance on how Convention No.190 could be implemented.

As of 25 June 2020, two countries have ratified Convention No. 190 - Uruguay and Fiji – thereby enabling the entry into force of the Convention on 25 June 2021.

  • Is the ILO developing practical guidelines explaining the provisions of Convention No.190?
From the moment of adoption of Convention No.190, the ILO has published a number of materials regarding the implementation of this instrument. This includes, for instance, a series of Technical Briefs on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work and a Brief on Convention No.190 during Covid-19. Likewise, the ILO published an easy-to-read guide to the Convention No.190 and Recommendation No.206 with the aim to improve the accessibility of these agreements. Other products are being prepared by the Office to provide practical guidance.

  • In the context of Covid-19, the risk of violence and harassment may be greater as job loss increases. How best can countries deal with it?
Violence and harassment is unacceptable anywhere and at any time, whether in times of prosperity or of crisis. The risk of violence and harassment is even higher during times of crisis: the COVID-19 outbreak has been a sombre reminder of this. Public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, such as self-isolation and work from home arrangements, may increase workers’ exposure to family and domestic violence. Financial pressures, also due to job losses, increased stress and disconnection from support networks
can also exacerbate the underlying conditions that lead to violence and harassment.

Urgent action needs to be taken in the COVID-19 context to guarantee that fundamental principles and rights at work are respected, and to ensure everyone’s right to a world of work free from violence and harassment, not only during and after the outbreak, but also to build a sustainable recovery and better resilience in the face of future crises. Convention No.190 and Recommendation No.206 provide a common framework to address violence and harassment in an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive manner. Gender-transformative macroeconomic decisions that prioritize decent work, social protection and care should be taken; national budgets should be more responsive to the needs and priorities of the most vulnerable affected by the crisis; adjustments to existing social and labour protection systems to ensure that all workers, regardless of their contractual status, should afford adequate labour and social protection. Efforts to ratify Convention No. 190 and implement both the Convention and Recommendation need to be a key element of response and recovery measures.

  • What steps could be taken to stop violence and harassment in the informal sector?
Convention No.190 covers the formal and informal economy (Article 2) and provides that member States, in the context of violence and harassment prevention, shall recognize the important role that public authorities in the case of informal economy workers (Article 8). Likewise, Recommendation No. 206 asks member States to provide resources and assistance to informal economy workers and employers to prevent and address violence and harassment in the informal economy (Paragraph 11).

  • How are employers also covered by Convention No. 190?
Convention No.190 was built upon the understanding that no one should be subject to violence and harassment in the world of work. It protects “workers and other persons in the world of work, including […] individuals exercising the authority, duties and responsibilities of an employer” (Article 2).

  • How can persons with disabilities access reporting mechanisms and information?
Convention No.190 pays specific attention to accessibility: it requires the development of tools, guidance, education, training and awareness-raising in accessible formats (Article 4) and calls on member States to require employers to take steps to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work including, so far as is reasonably practicable, by providing information and training in accessible formats (Article 9).
Following the same approach in practice, the ILO published the easy-to-read guide to Convention No.190 and Recommendation No.206. For more information, see the ILO Brief on violence and harassment against persons with disabilities.

  • How can awareness-raising be done among social partners?
Awareness-raising can be strengthened through social dialogue, the organization of discussions and knowledge sharing, sensitization activities, promotional and informative materials, trainings and, in general, by providing visibility to the phenomenon and placing it in the public agenda.

Upon request, the ILO provides technical support, including through awareness raising initiatives, promotional materials, research and technical assistance, to governments, and employers’ and workers’ organizations, on the ratification of Convention No.190 and the implementation of Convention No. 190 and Recommendation No. 206. Different campaigns have also been implemented by social partners to promote the ILO Convention No.190.

  • How can ILO Convention No. 190 and Recommendation No. 206 help protect victims of domestic violence that work from home during the Covid-19 pandemic?
The ILO Convention No.190 is based on a broad notion of “world of work”, which goes beyond the traditional physical workplace. It thus covers violence and harassment occurring in private and public spaces where they are a place of work (Article 3). Therefore, this includes teleworking from home.

The Convention recognizes that domestic violence can affect employment, productivity and health and safety, and that governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations and labour market institutions can help, as part of other measures, to recognize, respond to and address the impacts of domestic violence (Preamble). Convention No.190 requires member States to recognize the effects of domestic violence and, so far as is reasonably practicable, mitigate its impact in the world of work (Article 10). Recommendation No.206 further clarifies that such measures could include leave for victims of domestic violence, flexible work arrangements, temporary protection against dismissal and inclusion of domestic violence in workplace risk assessments, among others (Paragraph 18).

For more information, see ILO Brief on domestic violence and its impact in the world of work, ILO Report “In the face of a pandemic: Ensuring Safety and Health at Work” and ILO Employers’ guide on managing your workplace during COVID-19.

  • How ILO is planning to work with wider development stakeholders for promoting the ILO Convention No. 190 so that we can translate its provisions into actions?
Work on violence and harassment is not new to the ILO. In order to promote Convention No.190, the Organization builds on a number of well-established partnerships around the world.

Firstly, the ILO is currently a Recipient UN Organization (RUNO) in programmes of the Spotlight Initiative, initiated by the UN and European Union, in Asia and the Pacific, Africa and Latin America. Depending on the context of each country, the ILO’s contribution to Spotlight focuses on the prevention and elimination of violence and harassment, particularly gender-based violence and harassment, in the world of work.

The Better Work Programme, a unique partnership between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), assists enterprises to improve practices based on core ILO labour standards and national labour law. Special attention is given to preventing and addressing discrimination and, in particular, on eliminating sexual harassment. In this regard, innovative research, tools and materials have been developed.

The ILO also pursues its efforts through WE-EMPOWER, a joint project with UN WOMEN, funded by the European Union Partnership Instrument, aimed to strengthen companies’ capacity in the private and public sector in G7 countries to prevent and address sexual harassment. In this regard, different tools have been developed, such as self-assessment manuals and guides.

The ILO has also explored the synergies between international labour standards and the human rights supervisory mechanism, where labour-related rights are also covered and supervised.

At the international level, Convention No.190 and Recommendation No.206 have fed into international processes well beyond the ILO, including the UN Resolution on Violence against migrant workers, adopted on 18 December 2019.1

Interesting resources can be found here