The Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment and Violence in the Workplace (the “Code”) in terms of the Employment Equity Act was implemented on 18 March 2022.
This Code repealed the Amended Code of Good Practice on the Handling of Sexual Harassment Cases in the Workplace. The Code has gone wider than its predecessor by introducing new forms of harassment and violence in the workplace. Four main forms of harassment include: sexual harassment, racial and ethnic harassment; harassment on account of whistleblowing and bullying.
These forms of harassment are widely defined in the Code. For example, cyber or online harassment or bullying is now an extended form of harassment and this is particularly important due to the change in work practices and the use of electronic communications.
The Code encourages all employers to have a Harassment Policy. This is particularly important since an employer may be found to be vicariously liable for damages caused by one of its employees in harassing another employee. Although not obligatory, certainly advisable.
An employer should first conduct a risk assessment before putting in place such a Policy. Such risk assessment would include inter alia: assessing current policies addressing harassment and violence in the workplace, identifying risks where employees could be harassed, identifying instances where harassment has occurred and how the Company dealt with it and identifying measures to mitigate such risk.
It is advisable to get legal experts to assist in conducting your risk assessment and drafting a policy in line with the assessment and legislation.
Please feel free to contact one of our directors at solomonholmes for more information.