Anti Harassment Code to Enhance Workplace Productivity and Equality

Last year 12% of the caseload of the Equality Authority under the Employment Equality Act referred to incidents of sexual harassment and harassment on new grounds such as race, sexual orientation and disability in particular. At the launch of the Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment in the Workplace, Kate Hayes Chairperson of the Equality Authority stated that “Harassment and sexual harassment are damaging to and distressful for the individuals involved. The workplace as a whole is negatively affected through reduced efficiency, low morale among staff and reduced productivity. No organisation can afford to ignore either the short-term or long-term human and financial cost of this problem”

The objective of the Code of Practice is to provide clear guidelines which will help employers to resolve issues of sexual harassment and harassment and prevent them arising in the first place. This new Code provides guidance in three key areas:

 

  • A sexual harassment and harassment policy that should be in place and widely disseminated.
  • Training to build an awareness and understanding of harassment and sexual harassment. Such training and awareness raising will ensure knowledge across all staff of the policy and its commitments and a capacity for relevant staff to deal with issues of harassment and sexual harassment when they arise.
  • A clear, adequate and fair complaints procedure that needs to be followed when a complaint arises.

Ms Hayes underlined the potential of the code and its admissibility as evidence in sexual harassment and harassment cases.

“The Office of the Director of Equality Investigations, the Labour Court and the Circuit Court, in hearing sexual harassment and harassment cases, will look to the Code of Practice in assessing the practice and approach of the employer in fulfilling their responsibilities under the Employment Equality Act. However first and foremost the Code of Practice provides help to employers in preventing sexual harassment and harassment in the workplace. The effective implementation of the Code will support the change necessary for work environments free from harassment and sexual harassment”.

ENDS

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