Labour inspection

Validation workshop on desk-review report identifying gaps in addressing sexual harassment in the workplace and relevant circular outline

The report is expected to identify legal gaps which cause difficulties for labour inspectors in dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace. Its recommendations are used to develop the relevant circular outline.

Sexual harassment is one of the most offensive and demeaning experiences an employee can suffer. Not only can it result in emotional and physical stress for affected workers, but it can also adversely affect morale and job performance, reducing productivity, increasing absenteeism, and in certain cases, resulting in a higher rate of employee turnover. Sexual harassment, which is a form of gender discrimination, undermines equality at work.

Sexual harassment at the workplace is unlawful under Viet Nam’s 2012 Labour Code. Although the Labour Code includes some relevant guidances which, for example, gives employees who are victims of sexual harassment the right to unilaterally terminate their labour contract, it does not have a clear definition of sexual harassment or sanctions against it, making the implementation difficult. Consequently, labour inspectors lack applicable and validated legal bases for their inspection work.

With the ILO support, the tripartite national Code of Conduct on sexual harassment in the workplace was adopted in May 2015. The Code helps the Government, employers and workers in Viet Nam identify sexual harassment in the workplace, and prevent and address it by providing practical guidance which is missing in the laws. Therefore, information in the Code is expected to be used to complement the missing elements relevant to sexual harassment in the workplace in the legal system.

The ILO is currently assisting the labour inspectorate in Viet Nam to build its institutional and human capacity through a Dutch-funded technical cooperation project. Within the framework of the project, the Ministry of Invalids, Labour and Social Affairs requested the ILO’s support to carry out selected activities which will contribute to the development of regulations and tools for labour inspectors on sexual harassment in the workplace. They include:

- A report on legal gaps on sexual harassment in the workplace for labour inspection’s work; and

- An outline of the Circular on Guidance on Implementing Labour Code’s regulations on sexual harassment in the workplace based on the recommendations of the report.