|On June 25, International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention N° 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work (hereinafter the ‘Convention’) will enter into force, as it was ratified by Uruguay passing Law N° 19.849, making it the first country in the world to do so in December 2019.|
The Convention is framed in the growing international concern to acknowledge the psychosocial risk involved in work relationships, and complements the existent national legal framework to prevent and penalize sexual harassment under Law N° 18.561 and Decree N° 256/2017, as well as Law N° 19.580 on violence against women.
Violence and harassment, in any of their forms, entail psychosocial risk factors, defined by the ILO as: “…interactions between and among work environment, job content, organizational conditions and workers’ capacities, needs, culture, personal extra-job considerations that may, through perceptions and experience, influence health, work performance and job satisfaction”.
What is violence and/or harassment in the world of work?
The Convention defines both concepts as those unacceptable behaviors and practices or threats thereof, whether a single occurrence or repeated, that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm, and includes gender-based violence and harassment.
Besides, gender-based violence and harassment are defined as those behaviors that are directed at persons because of their sex or gender, or affecting persons of a particular sex or gender disproportionately, and includes sexual harassment.
Besides, the Convention establishes that each member, in their national law, shall define these concepts. In reference to harassment, Uruguay already has a legal definition of sexual harassment, which is understood as any sexual behavior that is not desired by the person who receives it, involving that this rejection produces or threatens to produce a prejudice in their employment situation or otherwise produces a hostile, intimidating or humiliating workspace.
However, the need to determinate the scope of sexual harassment is notorious, which in spite of the non-existing specific regulations (there are currently certain draft laws to regulate this in Parliament) is still penalized judicially and administratively.
Scope of the Convention
The Convention has a wide scope, as it protects not only employees in dependent work relationships, but also other employees that do some kind of labor activity, regardless of their contractual situation, whether they belong to the public or private sector. Moreover, it also includes employees whose employment has been terminated, volunteers, jobseekers and job applicants.
Besides, the Convention establishes a protection against violence and harassment that occurs during, in relation with or arising from the employment.
These protections are not limit to situations occurred at workplace, as the Convention’s scope includes places where the worker is paid, takes a rest or haves a meal, or uses sanitary, and washing and changing facilities. In addition, work-related trips, travel, training, events or social activities, work-related communications, including those enabled by information and communication technologies are also included.
What are the employer’s obligations?
Employers shall, as long as it is reasonable and feasible, take appropriate measures that are proportionate to their power to control, to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work. Consequently, employers shall have in place and apply a policy against violence and harassment, which must be designed in cooperation with workers and workers organizations representatives.
Moreover, employers shall consider the psychosocial risks related to their organization, which includes violence and harassment, in the management of occupational safety and health, as well as identify the current dangers of violence and harassment, in cooperation with workers and workers organizations representatives, taking measures to prevent and correct them.
Furthermore, employers are required to train workers on dangers and risks, prevention and protection measures, as well as on rights and responsibilities of everybody on the accomplishment of the policy against violence and harassment.
To accomplish these regulatory obligations, our team of occupational safety and health specialized professionals is able to assist you.