More than 1 in 5 workers globally experience violence, harassment

New employers' guide from ILO outlines legal framework, employer responsibilities

More than 1 in 5 workers globally experience violence, harassment

More than one in five people have experienced violence and harassment at work, according to a new analysis released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The analysis found that 22.8% of the respondents across 121 countries said they have experienced violence and harassment at work, whether physical, psychological, or sexual.

Broken down, the harassment and violence was psychological (17.9%), physical (8.5%) or sexual (6.3%).

"Psychological violence and harassment is the most prevalent across countries and women are particularly exposed to sexual violence and harassment," says Manuela Tomei, ILO assistant director-general for governance, rights and dialogue.

Why employees aren't coming forward

More than three out of five victims said they had experienced violence and harassment at work multiple times, according to the report.

Worryingly, it takes more than one incident of violence and harassment before some of the victims disclose their experiences to someone else, according to the report, because people:

  • think it’s a waste of time (55%)
  • fear for their reputation (44.5%)
  • think the procedures at work are unclear (42.5%)
  • are concerned about people finding out at work (40.8%)
  • don’t know what to do (38.3%)
  • fear some form of punishment (33.2%)

"It's painful to learn that people face violence and harassment not just once but multiple times in their working lives," Tomei said. "The report tells us about the enormity of the task ahead to end violence and harassment in the world of work."

Expediting ILO Convention 190

The analysis was carried out by the ILO with Lloyd's Register Foundation and Gallup. It aims to provide a baseline to track the progress of resolving the workplace issue, according to Andrew Rzepa, a partner at Gallup.

It’s hoped the findings of the report will further the ratification and implementation of ILO Convention 190, the first international labour standards for preventing, resolving, and eliminating violence in the workplace.

"I hope it will expedite action on the ground and towards the ratification and implementation of ILO Convention 190," Tomei said.

Employers' guide released

Following the release of the analysis, the ILO also rolled out a guide for employers on how they can address violence and harassment in the workplace.

The practical guide details the legal framework and responsibilities of employers, why they need to act, and how to develop and implement policies to prevent violence and harassment at work.

The guide can be "easily adaptable" to fit the location of the workplace and the laws, policies, and situation there, according to ILO.

"It is aimed at staff responsible for managing hazards, risks and workforce safety and health. This includes those working in human resources, occupational safety and health (OSH), employee relations and staff well-being," the ILO said in a media release.


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