The highest number of complaints of harassment at work or sexual harassment have been filed by women, with 80% of the complaints filed by men, said today the Commissioner for Administration and Protection of Human Rights, Maria Stylianou-Lottidis, in a public greeting As part of the “Break the Silence” information campaign on harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace.
He pointed out that the largest percentage of complaints investigated concerned the public sector (90%), compared to a fairly small number of complaints concerning private companies (10%). He said the difference was mainly due to the fear of people working in private organizations about the possibility of losing their jobs or facing any adverse consequences due to the reporting of a harassment incident.
In addition, an additional factor that leads to a reduced rate of complaints regarding the private sector, is the concern of individuals, as there is a risk of insulting them and / or causing negative consequences for their reputation, due to the publication of the event, he added.
Ms. Lottidi said that “in the context of the information campaign on harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace` Break the Silence` on the occasion of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Institution of the Commissioner of Administration in the Republic, we chose today / International Women's Day, to publish a report on the systematic investigation and assessment of complaints of harassment and sexual harassment submitted in the last 4 years, with the aim of identifying weaknesses and submitting relevant suggestions for addressing them ” .
He noted that the aim of the ongoing campaign is to inform potential victims of their rights and the existing out-of-court protection mechanisms, in order to give them the necessary impetus to break their silence.
Based on statistical surveys, as they are conducted from time to time at national and international level, most of the victims are women, she said, referring to the findings through the investigation of complaints in the last 4 years by her Office.
He pointed out that in a significant percentage of 39.48% of the complaints, there was satisfaction on the part of the complainant with our relevant intervention, with specific suggestions and recommendations in each individual case, to the Services involved for implementation.
He stated that these suggestions were aimed, on the one hand, at finding a solution to resolve the issue and, on the other hand, at taking precautionary and deterrent measures by the services to protect the complainant from any adverse actions in his / her workplace due to complaint.
Ms. Lottidi said that 19.35% were out of jurisdiction, either because they were anonymous or because they were general and vague, with the result that the arguments of each side could not be sufficiently substantiated and safe conclusions could be drawn.
A percentage of 19.35% of complaints are still under investigation and concern either sexual harassment or harassment at work due to gender, he added.
He stated that complaints related to harassment at work due to gender, accounted for 68% of the total complaints, while 32% of the complaints related to sexual harassment.
Ms. Lottidou said that unfortunately, although the Code of Practice for the prevention and treatment of harassment at work in the Public Service was created and submitted by her Office, from July 2018, we see almost four years later, a percentage of 40% of Public Service has not adopted the said Code, in the public and wider public sector and as a result of this omission the competent Equality Committees provided by it have not been established and their complaints have not been satisfactorily handled by the competent authority.
Therefore, he said, specific findings were made through these findings: immediate adoption of the Code of Practice for the Prevention and Treatment of Harassment and Sexual Harassment in the public service, by every public authority, organization, legal entity and public law. Establishment of Equality Committees / Equality Officers, which will involve employees of both sexes, one of whom will be a hierarchically superior employee, who will be responsible for submitting contributions to the public authority, the informing employees, organizing training programs, monitoring the implementation of the Code.
Also, every employer should take every appropriate measure to prevent, deal with, stop, not repeat and remove the consequences of any harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace, while such failure of the employer to deal with sexual harassment at work, makes him ” (Article 12 (3)) for the actions or acts of its employees that constitute sexual harassment. The Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Security is called upon to consider, in the light of the new ILO Convention and Recommendation, the possibility of existing legislation and policies to address sexual harassment, recognizing that it can also be done by third parties to the business, which do not currently fall within the definition of an employee, and therefore do not apply to these provisions of Law 205 (I) / 2002.
In addition, the Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Security is called upon to consider, in the light of the new ILO Convention and Recommendation, the possibility of amending existing legislation and related policies to address sexual harassment, acknowledging that third parties to the company, which do not currently fall under the definition of employee, and, therefore, the provisions of Law 205 (I) / 2002 do not apply to them.
Suggestions were also made for the immediate promotion of the bill on criminalization of harassment and stalking in order to immediately protect the victims and enable the punishment of the perpetrators and more active involvement of trade unions and employers' organizations.
In relation to the private sector, employers' and trade unions should, in order to deal more effectively with the phenomenon, intensify, on the one hand, the efforts to develop and implement policies and procedures, through the introduction of a Code of Practice, and, on the other, ensure to substantially inform and raise the awareness of their members and to promote the application of the principle of equal treatment at work, said Ms. Lottidi.
Finally, continuous education and training of employees and employers is necessary to ensure the protection of victims and to deal effectively with such behaviors, he added.
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