In part one of this two-part article series published on 3 August 2018, readers were informed of how common it is for female Employees to fall victim to Sexual Harassment in the workplace. This is due to the fact that women are often too afraid to speak up or break the silence out of fear of losing their jobs. Readers can access the article here: https://www.schoemanlaw.co.za/womensmonth-part-one-series-sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace-know-your-rights-as-an-employee/
It is extremely important for all Employees to be aware of the fact that there is legislation in South Africa which offers protection from discrimination and Sexual Harassment in the workplace.
The Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998, as amended (hereinafter the “EEA”), provides protection for all Employees in the workplace. On 4 May 1998, a Code of Good Practice on the Handling of Sexual Harassment Cases in terms of Section 203 of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 (hereinafter “LRA”) was published.
Part Two of this article will provide a summary of the Code of Good Practice mentioned above and will outline important guiding principles for Employers faced with Employees who have fallen victim to Sexual Harassment in the workplace.
The Code of Good Practice on the Handling of Sexual Harassment Cases (hereinafter the “Code”) places a duty on Employers to develop clear procedures to deal with Sexual Harassment. These procedures should ensure the resolution of problems in a sensitive, efficient and effective way.
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 counselling and relevant labour relations skills and be able to provide support and advice on a confidential basis.