Department Wants Stern Action Against Harassment In The Workplace

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The Department of Employment and Labour Is calling on employers to take action to stop harassment in the workplace. This comes after more than 1000 disputes were referred to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) over the last year.

 


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The Employment Equity Act aims to ensure equality in the workplace and protects workers from injustice. The act states that employers must have a harassment policy in place which sets out the range of disciplinary sanctions that are proportionate to the seriousness of the harassment in question.

Employment and Labour Deputy Director for Employment Equity (EE) Registry, Lucia Rayner says there must be consequences for harassment in the workplace. This will ensure that individuals who harass others are held accountable and face disciplinary action.

Rayner was speaking during the joint Department of Employment and Labour, and the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) 2022 Employment Equity workshop

The national roadshow has the aim to create awareness about the EE Act and dissect the Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work which South Africa ratified in 2022.

According to the code, harassment is defined as the use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against another person or against a group or community, which either results in, or has a high likelihood of resulting in social injustice, economic harm, injury, death, physical and psychological harm, mal-development or deprivation.

While the number of incidents of harassment declined over the last three years, it is expected to increase after the introduction of the Code of Good Practice and the return of people to their offices after many worked from home in previous months. In 2019/2020 the CCMA dealt with a total of 1 834 disputes which dropped to 1 260 disputes in 2021/2022.

CCMA regional commissioner Letsema Mokoena believes that some victims of harassment may choose to remain silent as they fear retaliation.

“Some of the reasons that make complainants to remain silent include the fear to lose jobs, making the harasser angry, not being believed, being seen as troublemakers, being blamed or accused of ‘asking for it’, and getting the harasser into trouble,” explained Mokoena.

It is important to note that The Code of Good Practice seeks to address the prevention, elimination and management of all forms of harassment in the workplace. Individuals have the right to report all forms of harassment in the workplace.

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