The Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) urges stakeholders in workplaces to make submissions on the Draft Code of Good on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work before October 21.
The code provides a framework for the interpretation and implementation of the Employment Equity Act pertaining to violence and harassment, including gender-based violence in the workplace, as well as guidelines to employers, employees, employers organisations and unions on how to deal with violence and harassment in the workplace.
Addressing DEL's workshop for the Mpumalanga province on October 9, Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) commissioner Dr Annelie Gildenhuys said the code would have an impact on everyone.
She added that the draft published in August brought clarity to South Africa, in defining an employer, the legal framework, principles and what violence and harassment is. It also offers guidelines on elimination and strategies to deal with violence and harassment.
However, the department also noted that South Africa was yet to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO's) Convention 190, which recognises the right of everyone to a workplace free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.
In January, Uruguay was the first country in the world to ratify the ILO’s Convention 190, which recognises that violence and harassment at work can constitute a human rights violation. The new Convention and Recommendation were adopted at the International Labour Conference in June 2019.
“South Africa agrees with the convention. There are now new forms of bullying through online channels. Violence and harassment is not only physical, it also includes psychological and emotional abuse,” said Gildenhuys.
The new code would also apply to the informal sector, she said.
According to the code, the Labour Relations Act describes violence as a form of misconduct, while the Occupational Health and Safety Act describes violence and harassment as a health and safety occupational hazard.
In addition, the department points out that virtual employment equity workshops started during the first week of October, for the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces. This year’s national series of workshops/roadshows have been streamlined for each province to have a single session.
The objective of the workshops is to publicise the status of employment equity in each province as reflected in the twentieth CEE yearly report, to solicit public comments on the published Draft Code of Good on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, and to advocate for online employment equity reporting.
The target audience for the virtual workshops includes, but is not limited to, employers and their employer organisations; human resources executives and practitioners; employment equity forum members; assigned senior managers/transformation managers; academics; employees and trade unions; labour relations practitioners; and civil society organisations among others.
The remaining virtual workshops, held from 10:00 to 12:00, will take place on October 12 for Limpopo, October 13 for the Free State, October 15 for KwaZulu-Natal, October 16 for the Eastern Cape, October 19 for the Western Cape and October 20 for Gauteng.
The workshops are also aimed at creating awareness on compliance with the Employment Equity Act, sharing the most current information and helping prepare employers to submit accurate employment equity reports.
Meanwhile, the deadline for 2020 employment equity reporting for manual and online submissions opened on September 1.
Manual submissions closed on October 1 and online submissions will close on January 15, 2021.