Business and Violence and Harassment

Violence and harassment in the world of work is a persistent and significant challenge faced by enterprises worldwide. The ILO Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 206) clearly spell out the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment. It covers all forms of violence and harassment, be it verbal, physical, social, sexual or psychological, that occurs anytime and anywhere in all places and circumstances related to work, regardless of the location, size, sector or type of enterprise.

Violence and harassment affect the safety and health of individuals at work and undermine their right to equality and non-discrimination. It imposes a range of costs that impact workers, enterprises, the government and society. These include the loss of productivity, higher workforce turnover and increased absenteeism, time and money spent on healthcare, encountering complaints and investigations, and most importantly the victims’ loss of well-being. Conversely, creating a world of work free from violence and harassment benefits businesses, including through increased productivity and reduced employee turnover and absenteeism. It also brings about a higher market value and reputation, happier and healthier workforce (regardless of contractual status), increased investor confidence and better customer and client satisfaction.

Everyone in the world of work, including workers and employers, should be protected from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment. Against this backdrop, the ILO MNE Declaration calls upon enterprises to combat workplace violence against women and men. Businesses should take appropriate steps and measures to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work. They need to clearly communicate to their workforce, customers, suppliers, investors and other relevant stakeholders about their policies and practices that clearly state that any type of workplace violence and harassment will not be tolerated. For instance, they can develop and implement an enterprise policy on violence and harassment at work, provide workplace violence and harassment prevention training, and develop measures to manage, assess and mitigate risks of workplace-based violence and harassment.

With reference to Convention No. 190 and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 206), ILO developed a practical guide on violence and harassment for employers. This guide focuses on the general principles in the prevention and management of violence and harassment at work. With support from the EU, ILO also provides an online module for companies on “A World of Work Free from Violence and Harassment against Women: Safe, Healthy & Respectful Workplaces”.