The UK government has recently announced its proposal to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention (the Convention).
Approved by the International Labour Conference in June 2019, the Convention calls on members to “address violence and harassment in the world of work in labour and employment, occupational safety and health, equality and non-discrimination law“. It also provides the first international definition of violence and harassment in the workplace, including gender-based violence.
When combined with the ILO’s Recommendation No. 206, which supplements the Convention by providing more detailed guidelines on how it could be applied, there is a comprehensive framework which facilitates a future of work based on dignity and respect. Recommendation No. 206 contains further details on how members should protect workers and prevent harassment, how the Convention should be enforced, and further advice on providing guidance, training and raising awareness.
This is not the only indication of the UK government’s fight against harassment in the workplace. Earlier this year, it published its response to a consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace and announced plans to introduce a positive duty for employers to prevent sexual and third-party harassment. Further, the UK government has stated that it will consider extending the time limit to bring any claim under the Equality Act 2010 from three to six months. This would be a significant reform that would have a profound impact on those wishing to rely on its protection.
These recent developments show the UK government’s ever-increasing focus on requiring employers to take greater responsibility for their staff, to identify harassment and violence, and to provide the necessary support and measures to address and prevent it. This is something that should be welcomed by employees and employers alike.