Naa’ilah Abader | 16 January 2023
Naa'ilah Abader, a senior associate at ENSafrica, elucidates the Code of Good Practice to eliminate all forms of harassment in the workplace.
Naa’ilah Abader, a senior associate at ENSafrica, writes:
On March 3, 2022, the Minister of Employment and Labour signed the Code of Good Practice on the prevention and elimination of harassment in the workplace and the code was published in the Government Gazette on March 18, 2022.
The code applies to all employers and employees as provided for in the Employment Equity Act no. 55 of 199. Harassment of an employee is a form of unfair discrimination which is prohibited in terms of the Act.
The primary objective of the code is to eliminate all forms of harassment in the workplace and in any activity linked to or arising out of work. For example: harassment is not limited to conduct in the workplace but may include conduct that takes place outside the workplace, but has an impact on the workplace, on employers and employees.
The code provides guidelines to employers and employees on:
The prevention and elimination of harassment; and human resource policies, procedures, and practices that an employer must implement in terms of the code. The code sets out the definition (including examples), factors and tests to be applied in relation to harassment in general; sexual harassment; and racial, ethnic, or social origin harassment. The definition of all types of harassment in the code is drafted in broad and general terms.
The code contains the following examples of harassment in general: slandering or maligning an employee or spreading rumors maliciously and conduct which humiliates, insults, or demeans an employee.
Examples of sexual harassment includes: touching, kissing, sexual assault, rape, sex related jokes or insults and unwelcome gestures.
Racial, ethnic, and social origin harassment includes: racist name calling or negative stereotyping impacting on a person’s dignity.
The code further identifies the steps that employers must take to eliminate harassment. In terms of the code, employers are required to adopt a harassment policy which is communicated effectively to all employees. Employers are also required to include issues of harassment in their orientation, education, and training programs.
Harassment is a sensitive issue, and many employees feel as though they are not able to report harassment to their employers or that nothing can be done to assist and protect them Employees are also uncertain or unaware that certain types of conduct could constitute harassment. Such conduct is therefore often not reported, and employers are unaware of the conduct.
It is therefore important for all employees to familiarise themselves with the contents of the code and their employer’s policies to ensure that they understand what types of conduct constitutes harassment and what their rights are relating to harassment in the workplace.
A copy of the code may be found here: Scanned document (labour.gov.za)
‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.