Human Resources South Africa

Code of Good Practise on Sexual Harassment

Code of Good Practise on Sexual Harassment

November 09
20:20 2010

6. Policy statements

(1) As a first step in expressing concern and commitment to dealing with the problem of sexual harassment, employers should issue a policy statement which should provide that:

(a) All employees, job applicants and other persons who have dealings with the business, have the right to be treated with dignity.
(b) Sexual harassment in the workplace will not be permitted or condoned.
(c) Persons who have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace have a right to raise a grievance about it should it occur and appropriate action will be taken by the employer.

(2) Management should be placed under a positive duty to implement the policy and take disciplinary action against employees who do not comply with the policy.

(3) A policy on sexual harassment should also explain the procedure which should be followed by employees who are victims of sexual harassment. The policy should also state that:

(a) Allegations of sexual harassment will be dealt with seriously, expeditiously, sensitively and confidentially.
(b) Employees will be protected against victimisation, retaliation for lodging grievances and from false accusations.

(4) Policy statements on sexual harassment should be communicated effectively to all employees.

7. Procedures

Employers should develop clear procedures to deal with sexual harassment. These procedures should ensure the resolution of problems in a sensitive, efficient and effective way.

(1) Advice and Assistance

Sexual harassment is a sensitive issue and a victim may feel unable to approach the perpetrator, lodge a formal grievance or turn to colleagues for support. As far as is practicable employers should designate a person outside of line management whom victims may approach for confidential advice. Such a person:
(a) Could include persons employed by the company to perform inter alia such a function, a trade union representative or co-employee, or outside professionals.
(b) Should have the appropriate skills and experience or be properly trained and given adequate resources.
(c) Could be required to have counseling and relevant labour relations skills and be able to provide support and advice on a confidential basis.

(2) Options to resolve a problem

(a) Employees should be advised that there are two options to resolve a problem relating to sexual harassment. Either an attempt can be made to resolve the problem in an informal way or a formal procedure can be embarked upon.
(b) The employee should be under no duress to accept one or the other option.

(3) Informal procedure

(a) It may be sufficient for the employee concerned to have an opportunity where she/he can explain to the person engaging in the unwanted conduct that the behaviour in question is not welcome, that it offends them or makes them uncomfortable, and that it interferes with their work.
(b) If the informal approach has not provided a satisfactory outcome, if the case is severe or if the conduct continues, it may be more appropriate to embark upon a formal procedure. Severe cases may include: sexual assault, rape, a strip search and quid pro quo harassment.

(4) Formal procedure

Where a formal procedure has been chosen by the aggrieved, a formal procedure for resolving the grievance should be available and should:

(a) Specify to whom the employee should lodge the grievance.
(b) Make reference to timeframes which allow the grievance to be dealt with expeditiously.
(c) Provide that if the case is not resolved satisfactorily, the issue can be dealt with in terms of the dispute procedures contained in item 7(7) of this code.

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