Technical ReportPDF Available

Addressing Occupational Violence : An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens,

Authors:

Abstract

Support for addressing violence in the world of work has been building at the international level, including within the ILO. This was highlighted at the 104th Session of the International Labour Conference in June 2015, both in the Resolution concerning the recurrent item on social protection (labour protection) as well as in the Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204). The issue is central to the ILO’s centenary initiative on women at work, as violence is a major obstacle to decent work for women and men. The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is also relevant in this regard: Sustainable Development Goal 5.2 calls on governments to “Eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres”, and Goal 8.5 calls for full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men. This report on occupational violence and regulatory interventions was first commissioned in the context of the women at work centenary initiative, and will now also inform the preparations for a standard-setting item on Violence against Women and Men in the World of Work (at the International Labour Conference to be held in 2018). It builds on the seminal work of Duncan Chappell and Vittorio Di Martino, published by the ILO in 2006 , a book that remains the most thorough overview of issues important to the understanding of occupational violence in the world. Since that important publication, much research has been conducted and many policies have been developed and implemented in jurisdictions around the world on various aspects of occupational violence. Much of the research has examined physical violence and workplace bullying and harassment, however, few studies have used a gender lens in reporting on occupational violence in its various forms. Those studies that do focus on gender tend to focus on sexual harassment, and more recently domestic violence in the workplace, rather than looking more broadly at all forms of occupational violence through a gender lens. Paying attention to gender in understanding all types of violence occurring in the workplace in various countries, and the determinants of workplace violence, is essential for the development of gender sensitive policies that will promote prevention of violence in its various forms and that will ensure adequate social protections and support for targets of violence. This report, reviewing the international literature and a selection of regulatory instruments with respect to occupational violence, provides an overview of policy strategies addressing the prevention of occupational violence, examines the various, sometimes competing, conceptual frameworks underpinning policy responses to violence, and describes different models of regulatory and policy interventions. The report identifies gender issues of importance in designing policy on occupational violence and knowledge and policy gaps that should be addressed to better design protections that are gender sensitive. The report also examines compensation for disability attributable to occupational violence, and other remedies and sanctions.
Gender,
Equality
and Diversity
Branch
Working Paper No. 5 / 2016
Addressing Occupational
Violence:
An overview of conceptual and policy
considerations viewed through
a gender lens
Katherine Lippel
Addressing Occupational Violence:
An overview of conceptual and policy
considerations viewed through a gender lens
Katherine Lippel
Canada Research Chair
in Occupational Health and Safety Law,
Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section,
University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
International Labour Ofce • Geneva
ii
Copyright © International Labour Organization 2016
First published 2016
Publications of the International Labour Office enjoy copyright under Protocol 2 of the Universal Copyright Convention.
Nevertheless, short excerpts from them may be reproduced without authorization, on condition that the source is
indicated. For rights of reproduction or translation, application should be made to ILO Publications (Rights and
Licensing), International Labour Office, CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland, or by email: rights@ilo.org. The International
Labour Office welcomes such applications.
Libraries, institutions and other users registered with a reproduction rights organization may make copies in accordance
with the licences issued to them for this purpose. Visit www.ifrro.org to find the reproduction rights organization in
your country.
Lippel, Katherine
Addressing occupational violence: an overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens /
Katherine Lippel; International Labour Office – Geneva: ILO, 2016.
ISBN: 978-92-2-131291-8 (print)
ISBN: 978-92-2-131292-5 (web pdf)
International Labour Office.
workplace violence / gender / women workers / occupational safety / legal aspect / regulation
13.04.5
ILO Cataloguing in Publication Data
The designations employed in ILO publications, which are in conformity with United Nations practice, and the
presentation of material therein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the International
Labour Office concerning the legal status of any country, area or territory or of its authorities, or concerning the
delimitation of its frontiers.
The responsibility for opinions expressed in signed articles, studies and other contributions rests solely with their au-
thors, and publication does not constitute an endorsement by the International Labour Office of the opinions expressed
in them.
Reference to names of firms and commercial products and processes does not imply their endorsement by the Inter-
national Labour Office, and any failure to mention a particular firm, commercial product or process is not a sign of
disapproval.
ILO publications and digital products can be obtained through major booksellers and digital distribution platforms,
or ordered directly from ilo@turpin-distribution.com. For more information, visit our website: www.ilo.org/publns or
contact ilopubs@ilo.org.
This publication was produced by the Document and Publications
Production, Printing and Distribution Branch (PRODOC) of the ILO.
Graphic and typographic design, layout and composition,
printing, electronic publishing and distribution.
PRODOC endeavours to use paper sourced from forests managed
in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible manner.
Code: JMB-REPRO-DISTR
iii
Table of contents
Preface ........................................................... 1
Acknowledgements .................................................. 3
Introduction ........................................................ 5
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens 7
1.1. Definitions of workplace violence for the purpose of this report ............... 7
1.1.1. According to the nature of the behaviour .......................... 8
1.1.1.1. Physical violence .......................................... 8
1.1.1.2. Psychological violence: psychological harassment/bullying/mobbing .... 9
1.1.1.3. Threats of violence ......................................... 10
1.1.1.4. Verbal abuse ............................................. 10
1.1.1.5. Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment ................. 10
1.1.1.6. Other forms of discriminatory harassment ........................ 12
1.1.1.7. Criminal violence .......................................... 12
1.1.1.8. Intimate partner violence in the workplace ....................... 13
1.1.1.9. Economic violence ......................................... 14
1.1.1.10. Technology-based violence at work ............................ 14
1.1.1.11. Other forms of violence ..................................... 14
1.1.2. According to the source of the behaviour .......................... 15
1.1.2.1. Internal Violence .......................................... 15
1.1.2.2. External violence .......................................... 16
1.2. Gender considerations in understanding occupational violence ............... 17
1.2.1. Types of violence to which women are disproportionately exposed ........ 18
1.2.2. Occupational sectors where violence is prevalent .................... 19
1.2. 2.1. Healthcare .............................................. 19
1.2.2.2. Education ............................................... 20
1.2.2.3. Domestic workers ......................................... 20
1.2.2.4. Working with the public ..................................... 21
1.2.2.5. Security (police, prisons, military) ............................. 22
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
iv
1.3. Organizational factors associated with exposure to various forms of violence ..... 22
1.3.1. Psychosocial hazards as fertile ground for occupational violence ......... 23
1.3.2. Non-standard employment contracts and exposure to violence .......... 24
1.3.3. Normalization and naturalization of violence in particular sectors ........ 25
1.4. Effects of exposure to workplace violence ............................... 26
1.5. Primary, secondary and tertiary prevention strategies ...................... 27
1.5.1. Preventing physical violence ................................... 27
1.5.2. Preventing psychological violence and sexual harassment .............. 30
Part 2: Designing gender sensitive legislation and policies
addressing workplace violence 33
2. 1. International regulatory instruments ................................... 33
2.1.1. ILO Instruments and other initiatives .............................. 33
2.1.2. European instruments ........................................ 35
2.1.2.1. The European Social Charter ................................. 35
2.1.2.2. Directives and framework agreements .......................... 36
2.1.3. Other regional Instruments .................................... 38
2.1.3.1. Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment
and Eradication of Violence against Women ............................. 38
2.1.3.2. Maputo Protocol .......................................... 38
2.1.3.3. The CARICOM model legislation .............................. 38
2.1.3.4. Asian initiatives ........................................... 39
2.1.3.5. Initiatives in the Arab Region ................................. 39
2.2. National Instruments .............................................. 39
2.2.1. Constitutional protections ...................................... 39
2.2.2. Human rights legislation ...................................... 40
2.2.3. Health and safety legislation ................................... 41
2.2.3.1. Legislation governing prevention of occupational injury and disease ..... 41
2.2.3.2. Workers compensation legislation ............................. 41
2.2.4. Generally applicable legislation ................................. 44
2.2.5. Sector-specific legislation ..................................... 45
v
Table of contents
2.3. Hazard-specific legislation .......................................... 45
2.3.1. Addressing bullying, mobbing and psychological harassment
in the workplace ................................................. 45
2.3.2. Addressing sexual harassment in the workplace ..................... 47
2.3.3 Addressing domestic violence in the workplace ...................... 50
2.4. Non-binding normative examples ..................................... 51
2.5. Instruments designed by or for the workplace parties ...................... 52
Conclusion: Looking at the need for regulatory protections through a gender lens ... 57
References ......................................................... 61
1
Preface
Support for addressing violence in the world of work has been building at the international
level, including within the ILO. This was highlighted at the 104th Session of the International
Labour Conference in June 2015, both in the Resolution concerning the recurrent item
on social protection (labour protection) as well as in the Transition from the Informal to
the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204). The issue is central to the ILO’s
centenary initiative on women at work, as violence is a major obstacle to decent work for
women and men. The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is also relevant in this regard:
Sustainable Development Goal 5.2 calls on governments to “Eliminate all forms of violence
against women and girls in the public and private spheres, and Goal 8.5 calls for full and
productive employment and decent work for all women and men.
This report on occupational violence and regulatory interventions was first commissioned
in the context of the women at work centenary initiative, and will now also inform the
preparations for a standard-setting item on Violence against Women and Men in the World of
Work (at the International Labour Conference to be held in 2018). It builds on the seminal
work of Duncan Chappell and Vittorio Di Martino, published by the ILO in 20061, a book that
remains the most thorough overview of issues important to the understanding of occupational
violence in the world.
Since that important publication, much research has been conducted and many policies have
been developed and implemented in jurisdictions around the world on various aspects of
occupational violence. Much of the research has examined physical violence and workplace
bullying and harassment; however, few studies have used a gender lens in reporting on
occupational violence in its various forms. Those studies that do focus on gender tend to
focus on sexual harassment, and more recently domestic violence in the workplace, rather
than looking more broadly at all forms of occupational violence through a gender lens. Paying
attention to gender in understanding all types of violence occurring in the workplace in various
countries, and the determinants of workplace violence, is essential for the development of
gender-sensitive policies that will promote prevention of violence in its various forms and that
will ensure adequate social protection and support for targets of violence.
This report, reviewing the international literature and a selection of regulatory instruments
with respect to occupational violence, provides an overview of policy strategies addressing
the prevention of occupational violence, examines the various, (sometimes competing)
conceptual frameworks underpinning policy responses to violence, and describes different
models of regulatory and policy interventions. The report identifies gender issues of
importance in designing policy on occupational violence and knowledge and policy gaps
1 Chappell and Di Martino 2006.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
2
that should be addressed to better design protections that are gender sensitive. The report
also examines compensation for disability attributable to occupational violence, and other
remedies and sanctions.
Shauna Olney
Chief
Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch
3
Acknowledgements
The author wishes to express her gratitude to Fatima Tajini, LLM candidate at the University
of Ottawa, who provided outstanding research assistance in identifying relevant sources for
this report and providing useful commentary on preliminary drafts. She thanks professors
Stephanie Bernstein, Michelle Tuckey, Michel Vézina and Dr. Nathalie Jauvin, who provided
helpful feedback and suggestions on a preliminary version of this report and also wishes to
acknowledge the contribution of Labour Inspector Manuel Velázquez, whose studies on the
role of labour inspectors in the prevention of psychosocial hazards, including violence, were
particularly useful. Comments provided by a range of ILO officials were also much appreciated,
and in this regard she would like to thank Katherine Gilchrist, Eric Stener Carlson, Manal
Azzi, Maria Luz Vega-Ruiz, Janine Berg, Manuela Tomei and Shauna Olney.
5
Introduction
The content of this report is based on an analysis of literature in English, French and Spanish,
drawn from the fields of industrial relations, management studies, trauma studies, occupational
health and safety, occupational psychology, criminology, sociology of work and law. Both peer
reviewed literature and grey literature
2, were consulted with a focus on publications from the
last decade. There are several hundred articles on these issues, so it was not possible, given
the constraints of this review, to provide an exhaustive, systematic review of all the literature
consulted. A selection of references is included, drawn from an extremely vast assortment of
publications, retaining those articles that best illustrate key issues we feel will be of interest
to ILO constituents, including governments, workers and employers and their representatives.
This paper does not provide an exhaustive analysis of regulatory frameworks currently in force
around the world but aims to provide information on emblematic developments addressing
the problem of occupational violence by the use of regulatory solutions as well as “normative
provisions contained in non-binding texts” (Shelton, 2000), sometimes referred to as “soft
law”3 in various countries.
This report is not about violence against women, but rather about violence against workers,
both men and women; however, we have tried wherever possible to retain a gendered analysis
of the results so as to ensure that interventions that could be informed by this report are
gender sensitive, designed to meet the sometimes similar, sometimes distinct, needs of male
and female workers.
The report is in two parts, the first conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens,
the second examining regulatory and other normative interventions to address workplace
violence.
2 Grey literature includes governmental reports and documents, reports by non-governmental organisations, trade publica-
tions, websites, and other non-peer reviewed sources.
3 Teresa Fajardo, Soft Law: http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199796953/obo-978019979
6953-0040.xml, consulted on August 1st, 2016.
7
PART 1
Conceptualizing workplace violence
through a gender lens
In order to address the challenges of occupational violence, it is essential to share definitions
and understand some of the causes and consequences of the various forms of violence to
which workers are exposed. A better understanding of the causes is essential for prevention.
It is also of importance to have a clear picture of gendered exposures to violence, including
both exposures that are different for men and women, and exposures that disproportionately
affect men or women because of the gendered nature of the labour market.
In this Part, we will provide definitions of various forms of workplace violence, reflect on how
a gender lens contributes to our understanding of violence, examine organizational factors
associated with various forms of violence and then consider, in a summary fashion, the
effects of violence and prevention strategies.
1.1. Definitions of workplace violence for the purpose of this report
As Chappell and Di Martino have clearly demonstrated, the definitions of occupational
violence and aggression vary widely between academic disciplines, between States, between
linguistic traditions and between cultures. As they stated in 2006:
“The variety of behaviours which may be covered under the general rubric of violence at work is so
large, the borderline with acceptable behaviours is often so vague, and the perception in different
contexts and cultures of what constitutes violence is so diverse, that it becomes a significant
challenge to both describe and define this phenomenon.
4
Many articles purport to define violence, as distinguished from aggression5, mobbing as
distinguished from bullying6, harassment as distinguished from bullying7, and sexual violence
as distinguished from other forms of violence. However, an overview of the literature makes
it clear that there are no absolute, cross-cutting, universal definitions for all terms relating to
occupational violence, in all languages. A critical commentary on the literature on definitions
4 Chappell and Di Martino 2006 p. 16.
5 See for example a review of the North American literature: Piquero, et al. 2013.
6 Most authors agree that mobbing and bullying encompass the same phenomenon, but some seek to distinguish sub-
categories. Ferrari 2004; Lippel 2010.
7 See the discussion from an Australian perspective: Caponecchia and Wyatt 2009.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
8
of violence suggests that various manifestations of violence are all part of a continuum and
that, for this reason, the concept should be construed broadly8.
Given that this paper seeks to provide an overview of the literature for the purpose of discussion
by specialists and non-specialists, the terms to be used in this report are defined in order
to permit a shared understanding of the different concepts presented in light of the English,
French and Spanish literature. Readers must bear in mind that a definition that is appropriate
for the purpose of developing an epidemiological tool may be inappropriate for the purpose
of regulation, and vice versa. For the purpose of this report, a distinction is made between
the situations addressed in the literature on the one hand, and those targeted by or requiring
regulatory action to promote healthier and safer workplaces, on the other. Information drawn
from studies on the prevalence of various forms of violence is integrated, noting that there
are huge variations between countries.
The forms of violence are defined, first according to the nature of the behaviour and then
according to the source of the behaviour.
1.1.1. According to the nature of the behaviour
1.1.1.1. Physical violence
Here the term physical violence used is that as defined by the World Health Organization
(WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) in a joint questionnaire developed to
study violence in the healthcare sector: “the use of physical force against another person or
group that results in physical, sexual or psychological harm, which includes, among others,
beating, kicking, slapping, stabbing, shooting, pushing, biting and pinching”.9
There are many other definitions found in the literature. Piquero and colleagues designate
physical violence as “a distinct form of workplace aggression that comprises behaviors that
are intended to cause physical harm”10. Here the ILO definition is preferred because it
includes non-intentional physical violence, thus including physical violence perpetrated by
individuals who are incapable of forming intent to harm. Authors have noted that some
studies on physical violence do not distinguish between actual physical violence and threats
of physical violence11. Conceptually these are two distinct categories, the former potentially
resulting in both physical and psychological consequences while the latter leading primarily
to psychological consequences.
Because of the varying definitions, it is often difficult to compare results between countries
or professions12.
8 Berlingieri 2015.
9 ILO, et al. 2003.
10 Piquero, et al. 2013 quoting Barling, et al. 2009. Barling et al distinguish workplace aggression from workplace physi-
cal violence and examine various myths including those based on links between physical workplace violence and mental
illness
11 Rasmussen, et al. 2013.
12 Rasmussen, et al. 2013.
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens
9
A systematic review of the literature on occupational violence in Latin America found that physical
violence was less often the subject of research, as compared to other forms of violence13.
A study from the United Kingdom on assault in the workplace found that 4.9 per cent of workers
had experienced physical violence at work in the previous two years, some on a daily basis
14
.
The authors found that women (6 per cent) and respondents from sexual minorities were more
likely to be victimized, many more gay or bisexual respondents (16 per cent), as compared to
heterosexuals (5 per cent) reporting physical violence; workers with a disability were also more
likely to report violence at work. Public sector workers were more likely to be targeted, notably
those in health and social work, public administration, defence and education.
A study from the Canadian province of Quebec reported an overall exposure to physical
violence of 1.9 per cent, however, 5 per cent of workers in the public and para-public sector
reported having been physically assaulted in the previous 12 months, with health care and
education workers reporting the highest prevalence15.
A study on physical violence at work in Morocco16 found the vast majority of victims to be
men, but this is not the case everywhere. Furthermore, under-reporting of gender-based
violence has been found to be significant, and to vary between regions, so that care must
be taken in interpreting results of studies from countries where disincentives to report are
significant17.
1.1.1.2. Psychological violence: psychological harassment/bullying/mobbing
A significant body of literature – and vocabulary – has developed in recent years on various
forms of psychological violence, including: bullying, a term used in the United Kingdom and
the United States and other Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions; mobbing, a term more common in
Scandinavian and German-speaking countries; acoso or hostigamiento moral, in Spanish;
harcèlement moral in France and Belgium; harcèlement psychologique in French-speaking
Canada and psychological harassment, a term used in some Canadian legislation. For the
purposes of this report these terms are used interchangeably18.
Leading scholars from organizational psychology backgrounds, Ståle Einarsen and colleagues,
define the concept in this way:
“Bullying at work is about repeated actions and practises that are directed against one
or more workers; that are unwanted by the victim; that may be carried out deliberately or
unconsciously, but clearly cause humiliation, offence, and distress; and that may interfere
with work performance and/or cause an unpleasant working environment.19
13 Ansoleaga, et al. 2015.
14 Jones, et al. 2011.
15 Lippel, et al. 2011b.
16 Boughima, et al. 2012.
17 Palermo, et al. 2014.
18 For details on the origin of the different terms in different linguistic contexts see Lippel 2010.
19 Einarsen, et al. 2011 p. 9.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
10
They have also developed a precise measurement tool in the form of the Negative Act
questionnaire20. That definition has been widely applied in the management and organizational
psychology research21. Regulators define the term differently, in light of the regulatory
contexts in which they are introducing the concept, so it is possible to find laws that include
one single serious event under the definition22, for example in contexts in which other forms
of violence, like intimidation, are not explicitly regulated.
1.1.1.3. Threats of violence
While some studies include threats of violence within the definition of physical violence
others look specifically at threats. A Danish study compared exposure in four occupations
and focussed specifically on different types of threats, which can be written or verbal, direct
or indirect23. They found variations between different occupations: workers in special schools
and psychiatric care had higher frequencies of threats compared to those in elder care and
those working in prisons, although some types of indirect threats were more frequent in
prisons and psychiatric units.
1.1.1.4. Verbal abuse
Verbal abuse is included in many of the studies examining occupational violence in the
workplace24, and in guidance material produced by the ILO for the purpose of risk assessments
in the workplace25. A systematic review of the literature on verbal violence, applying a gender
lens, found that most studies did not conclude there were gender differences, although a few
found that men were more exposed than women26.
1.1.1.5. Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment
Definitions and measures of sexual harassment vary between jurisdictions and cultures27.
The ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations
defines sexual harassment as including the following elements:
20 Zapf, et al. 2011.
21 Samnani and Singh 2012.
22 For example s. 81.18 of the Quebec Labour Standards Act, R.S.Q. c. N-1.1, defines psychological harassment to include
some one off events: “For the purposes of this Act, ‘psychological harassment’ means any vexatious behaviour in the form
of repeated and hostile or unwanted conduct, verbal comments, actions or gestures, that affects an employee’s dignity
or psychological or physical integrity and that results in a harmful work environment for the employee. A single serious
incidence of such behaviour that has a lasting harmful effect on an employee may also constitute psychological harass-
ment.” The literature also discusses single events of bullying that can be experienced as a critical life event. See D’Cruz,
et al. 2014.
23 Rasmussen, et al. 2013.
24 Fisekovic, et al. 2015 that applied the ILO/ICN/WHO/PSI: Workplace Violence in the Health Sector-Country Case Studies
Research Instrument-Survey Questionnaire. ILO et al. 2003.
25
International Labour Organization, Sectoral Activities Programme, Code of practice on workplace violence in services sec-
tors and measures to combat this phenomenon, Meeting of Experts to Develop a Code of Practice on Violence and Stress
at Work in Services: A Threat to Productivity and Decent Work (8-15 October 2003), Geneva. Available at http://www.ilo.
org/safework/info/standards-and-instruments/codes/WCMS_107705/lang--en/index.htm, consulted on 28 February 2016.
26 Guay, et al. 2014.
27 Chappell and Di Martino 2006, Bond, et al. 2007, Casas Becerra 2016, Huen 2011, Ather 2013.
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens
11
“(1) (quid pro quo): any physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature and
other conduct based on sex affecting the dignity of women and men which is unwelcome,
unreasonable and offensive to the recipient; and a person’s rejection of, or submission to,
such conduct is used explicitly or implicitly as a basis for a decision which affects that
person’s job; or (2) (hostile work environment): conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile
or humiliating working environment for the recipient” 28.
The definition in article 2 of the European Directive 2002/73/EC is as follows: “Where any
form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs, with
the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an
intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
The concept includes both unwanted sexual attention in the workplace and the poisoned
work environment. It is useful to note that some surveys on working conditions in Europe29
and Quebec30 have used questions on unwanted sexual attention as a proxy for sexual
harassment, without asking about the poisoned work environment, which may in part explain
low levels of reporting of sexual harassment in some surveys.
Literature from the United States specifies that the concept of sexual harassment can also
includequid pro quo behaviors where the unwelcome behavior becomes a term or condition
of employment or advancement”31.
Sexual harassment is under-reported32, and may overlap with other forms of violence33 or be
subsumed into the broader concept of psychological harassment, particularly if targets are
stigmatized when complaining of sexual or gender based harassment34.
The vast majority of targets of sexual harassment are women and the vast majority of
perpetrators are men. However there are cases of sexual harassment where the targets are
men, and the perpetrators may be either men or women35.
Gender-based harassment is discriminatory harassment motivated by the gender of the
target, and does not intrinsically involve sexual innuendo.
Gender-based harassment, but not sexual-advance harassment, was found to be related to
the under-representation of women in male dominated workplaces, although men in female-
dominated workplaces were not more exposed to either form of harassment36.
28 ILO, 2012.
29 Eurofound 2013. The report, at p. 8, notes that unwanted sexual attention was used as a proxy for sexual harassment
until the 2010 survey.
30 Lippel, et al. 2011b.
31 Schneider, et al. 2011 p. 245.
32 Van De Griend and Hilfinger Messias 2014.
33 Eurofound 2013.
34 Cox 2014.
35 McDonald and Charlesworth 2016.
36 Kabat-Farr and Cortina 2014.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
12
1.1.1.6. Other forms of discriminatory harassment
Discriminatory harassment has received less attention in the literature than sexual harassment.
It has been prohibited in North America, Australia, and Europe for a number of years, and
the legislation governing its prohibition usually requires that the harassment be shown to be
related to a prohibited ground of discrimination, with the categories protected by national
legislation varying considerably. Harassment against racialized minorities is understood to
be prohibited in most human rights instruments, but the prohibition against harassment on
the basis of age or sexual orientation is less universal. Even though harassment on the basis
of ethnicity or race is prohibited in many countries, effectiveness of those protections is
rarely studied, and those studies that do exist show that racialized minorities are more often
exposed to harassment and discriminatory treatment37. Bullying and harassment of workers
with disabilities has not been studied extensively38.
There is an emerging body of literature on harassment based on sexual orientation and
gender identities39, notably in Australia40, where discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation is prohibited. In the United States, where sexual orientation is not included
in Title VII protections41, researchers have documented adverse effects of discrimination
and harassment related to sexual orientation and its effects on health, and have suggested
regulatory measures to improve protection42.
1.1.1.7. Criminal violence
Physical violence, including homicide, various forms of assault and threats of violence can
fall under the purview of criminal legislation, although implementation of criminal law in
the workplace is, in many sectors, exceptional43. Physical violence committed by patients
or students is often “normalized” in the workplace, perceived to be part of the job44, and in
cases of young children or legally incompetent adults it is highly unlikely that the criminal law
would be applied. This said, in some countries, like the United States45, for example, violent
crime is the primary focus of the literature on occupational violence, and the problems are
conceptualized in the criminological literature on crime prevention more often than in that
relating to occupational health.
37 In Canada see Premji and Lewchuk 2013; in the United States, Chew 2007.
38 In the United Kingdom see Fevre, et al. 2013.
39 For an overview of work-related discrimination toward transgender individuals in the United States, see Sangganjana-
vanich and Cavazos 2010.
40 Ferfolja 2010.
41 Title VII of the American Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, prohibits discrimination in employment based on “race,
color, religion, sex [including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions] and national origin”. The Americans
with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. For details see U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission, https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm, consulted on July 10th, 2016.
42 Rabelo and Cortina 2014.
43 de Léséleuc 2007.
44 This may affect reporting practices in surveys on occupational violence. See, for example, Heiskanen 2007.
45 The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in 2014, 749 occupational deaths were attributable to ‘vio-
lence and other injuries by persons or animals’. The number of workplace homicides was about the same as the total in
2013. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.nr0.htm, consulted on 21 February 2016.
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens
13
A detailed study of criminal victimization in the workplace in Canada found that 37 per cent
of violent workplace incidents had been reported to the police, and male victims were much
more likely than women to report violent incidents to the police. The authors suggest that
this might be explained by the fact that men were more likely to have suffered injuries than
women, and that “women were more often victims of sexual assault, which has the lowest
reporting rate to police”46. Among the cases of workplace violence where the accused was
known to the victim, the perpetrator was a co-worker in 18 per cent of incidents.
1.1.1.8. Intimate partner violence in the workplace
Women are disproportionately targets of intimate partner violence. Violence against women
is the subject of a huge body of literature47 that will only be discussed here as it relates to
workplaces and work. Two facets will be retained: intimate partner violence that occurs in the
workplace and intimate partner violence that affects the worker’s ability to work or to keep
a job48. Other issues in the literature include studies of the spill-over effect of work that can
increase the risk that a worker becomes a perpetrator of domestic violence49 and studies that
call for workplaces to manage their employees who are perpetrators of domestic violence
outside the workplace50.
In the United States, intimate partner violence is considered to be a public health issue,
and between 2003 and 2008, one third of workplace homicides among U.S. women were
perpetrated by a personal relation, the majority attributed to an intimate partner51. Yet in the
United Kingdom, the Health and Safety Executive uses the Crime Survey for England and
Wales to report on violence at work while excluding domestic violence from the purview of its
report because “these cases are likely to be very different in nature from other experiences
of violence at work.52
Domestic violence, regardless of where it occurs, can have a negative impact on the target’s
ability to get to work, to stay at work or to work well, and there are studies from New Zealand53,
Canada54 and the United States55 that document ways in which targets’ performance at work
can be negatively affected by intimate partner violence outside of work.
Both these facets of intimate partner violence and its relation to work are the subject of
considerable debate as to regulatory protections in labour law that are needed to ensure
targets’ safety, on the one hand, and their ability to be accommodated in the workplace so
46 de Léséleuc 2007. P.13.
47 Cruz and Klinger 2011, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2014.
48 A recent survey found that the consequences of domestic violence impacts victims’ work lives. See Wathen, et al. 2015.
49 Melzer 2002.
50 Martinez 2015a.
51 Tiesman, et al. 2012.
52 Buckley 2015.
53 Rayner-Thomas 2013.
54 Wathen, et al. 2015.
55 Brown 2008, Goldscheid 2009.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
14
as to ensure their ongoing employment. We will explore some of these regulatory examples
in the second part of this report.
1.1.1.9. Economic violence
The term economic violence has been developed in the feminist literature on gender-based
violence. It has been defined as follows: “Economic violence is when the abuser has complete
control over the victim’s money and other economic resources or activities”56 and is usually
associated with familial abuse, although the same author includes discriminatory wage scales
as part of economic violence. It is recognised as one of four commonly regulated forms of
family violence, the others being physical, psychological and sexual. Seventy-nine countries
have intimate partner/family violence legislation specifically addressing situations that can be
grouped under the term “economic violence.57
1.1.1.10. Technology-based violence at work
Recently researchers and regulators have been turning their attention to technology-based
violence, including cyber-bullying (cyber-intimidation), and other forms of violence facilitated
by social media and technology58. Much of this work has looked at violence against women
and girls, or cyber-bullying in schools, but little has focussed on links between technology-
based violence and work.
There are a few studies looking at workplace cyber-bullying: including a study relating to
call centres in India59, one examining cyber-bullying across sectors in Sweden60, and one
from Australia61. Some of this literature looks at violence using traditional technology,
the telephone. Call centre personnel in Germany have been found to be at risk for sexual
harassment62. French personnel working in customer support departments were also found to
be targets of violence from customers63 as were call-centre workers in China64. Racial abuse
is also a hazard of work in call centres65.
1.1.1.11. Other forms of violence
“Systemic violence” refers to “violence yielded by the working organization” and “means that
the structure of the organization can have features which make workers liable to violence.
56 Fawole 2008, at 168.
57 World Bank Group 2015, at p. 23.
58 See for example a recent report by the looking at technology related violence against women, Women’s Legal and Human
Rights Bureau 2015.
59 D’Cruz, et al. 2014.
60 Forssell 2016.
61 Privitera and Campbell 2009.
62 Sczesny and Stahlberg 2000.
63 Chevalier, et al. 2011.
64 Li and Zhou 2013.
65 Nath 2011.
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens
15
For example, maximizing the economic outcome of the enterprise or simple indifference may
lead to defective protection of the worker”66.
The term “structural violence” has been used “to identify the heavy workloads, low levels
of decision-making autonomy, low status, rigid work routines and insufficient relational care
as forms of violence. Not only are these poor working conditions experienced as sources
of suffering but they prevent careworkers from providing the kind of care they know they
are capable of.” 67 The same authors, in describing organizational factors associated with
violence in care work, refer to “epistemological violence […] a concept coined […] to name
the harm that results from the hegemony of reductionist assumptions.” They use the concept
to explain the drivers of patient violence towards careworkers in long term care facilities,
linking the streamlined treatment of residents in the context of restructuring of the health
care sector with an increase in violence against careworkers68.
The violence literature also discusses other forms of workplace aggression, including
incivility69. Some of these categories can be considered as psychosocial risk factors that are
precursors to other forms of occupational violence.
1.1.2. According to the source of the behaviour
The literature has developed various categorisations of occupational violence, based on the source
of the behaviour, and these distinctions have relevance for the prevention of violence and the
design of regulatory protections and interventions. The internal vs external distinction is a classic
distinction made in the literature and used by the ILO70 and some regulatory instruments govern
the same behaviour differently depending on the internal vs external dichotomy71. American
scholars have developed a slightly more detailed classification system of violent workplace
incidents (physical violence) depending on the perpetrators: Type I refers to perpetrators with
criminal intent; Type II customers or clients; Type III worker on worker violence and Type IV
personal relationships,72 and this typology can still be found in the literature.
1.1.2.1. Internal Violence
Understanding the relationships between targets and perpetrators is essential for prevention
and for the development of appropriate regulatory remedies. Internal violence would be
included in Type III of the American classification, however international analyses of this
category has been refined, particularly when including other forms of violence in the analysis.
66 Heiskanen 2007, at p. 24.
67 Banerjee, et al. 2012, at page 391. It is of note that the article reports on physical violence in a long term care facility
and that it uses the concept of structural violence as a determinant of physical violence to careworkers.
68 Banerjee, et al. 2015.
69 See for instance Estes and Jia 2008, Laschinger, et al. 2014.
70 Chappell and Di Martino 2006, p. 10.
71 WorkSafeBC, 1998. Occupational Health and Safety Regulation: Core Requirements, Improper Behaviour; Violence,
s. 4.24 governs internal violence, labelled ‘improper activity or behaviour’ while s. 4.27 governs ‘violence’ to cover at-
tempted or actual exercise of physical force by a person other than a worker so as to cause injury to a worker.
72 Merchant and Lundell 2001.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
16
For example, the bullying literature distinguishes between vertical and horizontal or lateral
violence73. Vertical violence addresses a hierarchical relationship between target and
perpetrator, which usually involves supervisors targeting people with less power, although
there are also cases of supervisors being the object of bullying by people who are lower down
in the corporate hierarchy. Research on harassment of women managers74 shows that they
may be targeted from above or below, or by colleagues. Violence perpetrated by colleagues
is catalogued as horizontal or lateral violence. The distinction between vertical and horizontal
violence is made primarily in the bullying literature.
Regional and occupational sector variations are as relevant as distinctions between different
forms of violence. Perpetrators of bullying are more likely to be supervisors in some countries,
while, in others, colleagues are more likely to be perpetrators75. Men have been found to be
protected by their position in the hierarchy in some studies, supervisors and professionals
being less likely to be targeted than those working at the bottom of the hierarchy, while
women have been found to be less likely to be protected by their occupational status than
their male counterparts76.
Internal violence can include intimate partner violence when both partners work in the same
workplace77.
1.1.2.2. External violence
Both the North American and European literature includes several recent studies on external
violence that define and document the phenomenon, and, in some cases, describe various
interventions that workplaces have considered for the purpose of prevention. A French
overview of the issue describes various institutional definitions of occupational violence,
and typologies of external violence that cover the spectrum from incivilities to homicide; it
discusses potential factors that influence external violence, both in terms of specific sectors
and professions and in relation to work organization; it examines the health effects on targets
and on bystanders and it summarizes various prevention measures that address both primary,
secondary and tertiary prevention78.
While clients, patients, passengers, and students are an essential element in workplaces, they
are not controlled by the employer in the same way as employees are, be they supervisors
or colleagues of the target. The literature categorizes violence committed by these actors
as external rather than internal. External violence includes not only violence from clients,
patients and students, but also violence perpetrated by their family members79.
73 Stanley, et al. 2007.
74 Salin 2005.
75 Hoel, et al. 2001a, Hoel and Einarsen 2010, Lippel, et al. 2011b, Zapf, et al. 2011.
76 Lippel, et al. 2011b, Lippel, et al. 2016, Salin 2005.
77 The death of two women assassinated by intimate partners who worked in the same workplace as they led to the inclusion
of specific provisions in the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act to address domestic violence in the workplace.
See Bill 168, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act with respect to violence and harassment in the
workplace and other matters, 2009 S.O. c. 23.
78 Moreau, et al. 2010.
79 El Ghaziri, et al. 2014. Patients’ relatives were found to be the most frequent perpetrators in several studies from “Arabic
cultures”, see AbuAlRub and Al Khawaldeh 2013. This was not the case in American studies: Pompeii, et al. 2015.
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens
17
A study of incidence rates of third party workplace violence in Europe found that there had
been an increase in incidents over the three cross-sectional waves of the European Working
Conditions Survey (1995, 2000, 2005), an increase that could not be explained by recent
changes in the European labour market80.
In examining the literature on occupational violence between 1978 and 2004, Estrada and
colleagues found that within the category of external violence, the focus of the literature
had shifted from the retail sector (robberies), which predominated until the mid-nineties,
to the health care and education sectors, a result they explain both by increase in exposure
in those sectors and by a reduced tolerance of violence81. Studying Swedish victim surveys
they also found that while violence in care and education had increased, reporting to the
police in those sectors had decreased over time82. In Finland, similar patterns and analyses
were reported, with an increase of violence towards workers, most notably female workers,
particularly in the care sectors83. In the Finnish study, violence included threats of violence
and physical violence, and women, more than men were targets of physical violence.
The North American literature observes a similar increase in violence in the health and
education sectors and a decrease in violence in the retail sector84.
A study in Hong Kong, China found that customer or client-perpetrated violence was far more
prevalent in public sector workplaces than in those in the private sector85.
External violence also includes attacks by perpetrators having no link with the workplace,
such as robberies, terrorist attacks, and intimate partner violence when the perpetrator is not
a co-worker.
1.2. Gender considerations in understanding occupational violence
The ILO has produced a thoroughly researched working paper on gender-based violence in
the workplace and the findings and literature discussed in that report will not be duplicated
here86.
Some scholars recommend a broader inclusion of the concept of workplace to cover non-
paid work, volunteer work and domestic work, for example
87
. For the purpose of this report
we are restricting ourselves to workplaces, formal or informal, where men and women work
for pay.
80 Bossche, et al. 2013.
81 Estrada, et al. 2010.
82 Estrada, et al. 2007. See also Wassell 2009.
83 Heiskanen 2007.
84 Menendez, et al. 2012.
85 Wing Lo, et al. 2012.
86 Cruz and Klinger 2011.
87 Van De Griend and Hilfinger Messias 2014.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
18
1.2.1. Types of violence to which women are disproportionately exposed
As we shall see throughout this report, women are more likely than men to be exposed to
certain types of occupational violence while other types of violence affect both men and
women, although there may be gendered patterns that differ from one country to the next.
Sexual violence: As we shall see in the section on sexual harassment, there is a consensus
in the literature that women are more often exposed than men to sexual violence at work,
including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and poisoned work environments of a sexist
nature. This is of course also true outside of the workplace88.
Intimate partner violence: As we have seen, there is an emerging literature on intimate partner
violence and its links with the workplace. There are three major issues discussed: impact
of intimate partner violence on women’s ability to hold paid employment89, intimate partner
violence involving two employees in the same workplace, and vulnerabilities of workers to
intimate partner violence that could occur while they are at work. In the U.S., intimate
partners are the perpetrators of a large percentage of workplace homicides among women90.
Psychological violence: Literature is contradictory with respect to psychological violence, in
some studies women are more often exposed than men, notably in the Eurofound studies91,
in EQCOTESST, a population based study in Quebec92 and in the U.S. National Health
Interview Survey93. Other studies suggest that women are no more exposed than men to
workplace bullying and harassment94, although this varies when we compare men and women
in the same professional categories95.
Physical violence: Literature is also contradictory regarding physical violence. In some
studies men are found to be more often targets than women, although this varies between
countries and occupational categories and sectors. Workers’ compensation data from Quebec
reports that compensated claims for physical violence against women is increasing, while
violence against men has remained stable over recent years96. A Swedish study also found
that victimisation of women workers had increased while victimisation of men was fairly
stable97, and in Denmark, sectors dominated by women reported higher incidences of physical
aggression than in the sector where there was a majority of men98.
88 Cortina and Kubiak 2006.
89 Goldscheid 2009.
90 Tiesman, et al. 2012. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2014, among the workplace homicides
in which women were the victims, the greatest share of assailants were relatives or domestic partners (32 percent of
those homicides). In workplace homicides involving men, robbers were the most common type of assailant (33 percent).
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.nr0.htm, consulted on 21 February 2016.
91 See for instance: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions 2007. There are variations
depending on the nature of the violence and the country. See also Eurofound 2015.
92 Lippel, et al. 2011b.
93 Alterman, et al. 2013.
94 Zapf, et al. 2011.
95 Salin 2005, Lippel, et al. 2016.
96 Commission de la santé et de la sécurité au travail 2015.
97 Estrada, et al. 2010.
98 Rasmussen, et al. 2013.
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens
19
1.2.2. Occupational sectors where violence is prevalent
Women and men work in different sectors, so that sector based violence may also have
gendered implications. Here we examine sectors where occupational violence is known to be
prevalent, and it is relevant to note the gender composition of those sectors, even though
many of the studies do not draw attention to the gendered composition of the workplaces
and sectors studied.
1.2.2.1. Healthcare
There is considerable literature in English, French and Spanish on violence in the health
care sector, examining targets that include doctors, nurses, and other health care workers,
including paramedics99, receptionists100, and midwives101, working in a variety of settings
including hospitals, private homes102, psychiatric institutions and private clinics. This literature
includes European103, North American104 and Australian10 5 perspectives, but also studies from
Latin America106, China107 including Taiwan108, Lebanon109, Sub-Saharan Africa110, Jordan111,
Iraq112, Pakistan113, Palestine114 , Morocco115, Turkey116, Saudi Arabia117 and Egypt118 . It
includes physical violence, threats of violence, and various forms of psychological violence,
and considers violence perpetrated by colleagues119 , patients and their families120. Little of
this literature addresses gender issues in relation to violence in healthcare, despite the fact
that a study from 2002 emphasizes the importance of including sexual harassment and
gender based harassment in the study of violence in the health care sector121.
99 Boyle, et al. 2007.
100 Bayman and Hussain 2007.
101 El Ghaziri, et al. 2014.
102 Hanson, et al. 2015.
103 Millar 2006, Bayman and Hussain 2007, Rasmussen, et al. 2013, Fisekovic, et al. 2015, Magnavita and Heponiemi
2011.
104 Pompeii, et al. 2013, Pompeii, et al. 2015.
105 Boyle, et al. 2007, Magin, et al. 2008, Hills, et al. 2013, Pich, et al. 2011.
106 Ansoleaga, et al. 2015 A third of the studies reviewed focused on the health care sector. See also a recent Brazilian
study: da Silva, et al. 2015.
107 Shi, et al. 2015AB.
108 Chen, et al. 2009.
109 Alameddine, et al. 2015B.
110 Blando, et al. 2015; El Ghaziri, et al. 2014; Kennedy and Hester 2013.
111 AbuAlRub and Al-Asmar 2011, AbuAlRub and Al Khawaldeh 2013, Albashtawy 2013.
112 AbuAlRub, et al. 2007.
113 Shahzad and Malk 2014.
114 Kitaneh and Hamdan 2012.
115 Belayachi, et al. 2010.
116 Pinar, et al. 2015, Erkol, et al.
117 El-Gilany, et al. 2010.
118 Abou-ElWafa, et al. 2015.
119 Stanley, et al. 2007, Johnson 2009.
120 El Ghaziri, et al. 2014, Pompeii, et al. 2013, Pompeii, et al. 2015.
121 Hatch-Maillette and Scalora 2002.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
20
All studies mentioned that violence was a hazard associated with healthcare professions and
workplaces. The ILO, in collaboration with the International Council of Nurses, the World
Health Organization (WHO) and the Public Services International developed a questionnaire
designed to measure workplace violence in the health sector in different countries, and this
tool was adapted to the local context in several studies122.
1.2.2.2. Education
Teachers are the targets of various forms of violence and recent studies from the United
States123, Canada124, Latin America125, Turkey126, Denmark127, the European Union128 and
Korea129 have documented prevalence of physical and psychological violence of various forms
perpetrated by students, and sometimes their parents, targeting teachers. Teachers unions,
notably in the U.K.130 and Canada131 have been denouncing escalating violence against
teachers and calling for it to be addressed.
1.2.2.3. Domestic workers
Domestic workers, particularly live-in caregivers, are known to be vulnerable to abuse,
including sexual assault and other forms of violence. These issues were the subject of
discussion in the literature132 leading up to the ILO Convention 189 on Domestic Workers,
adopted in 2011, that explicitly addresses violence and abuse of domestic workers133.
Discussion of exposure of domestic workers to occupational violence can be found in articles
focussing on Latin America134, North America135, Africa136, or the Middle East137, and health
122 See for example Fisekovic, et al. 2015, AbuAlRub, et al. 2007, AbuAlRub and Al-Asmar 2011.
123 Espelage, et al. 2013, Reddy, et al. 2013, Tiesman, et al. 2013, McMahon, et al. 2014. Gerberich, et al. 2014. The
Tiesman and the Gerberich studies found that special education professionals were particularly vulnerable to violence
perpetrated by students. This was also found in a Danish study: Rasmussen, et al. 2013.
124 Wilson, et al. 2010. This article also examines the consequences of violence for teachers’ health and teaching related
functionality.
125 34 per cent of the studies surveyed in a systematic review of occupational violence in Latin America looked at the educa-
tion sector, see Ansoleaga, et al. 2015.
126 Ozdemir 2012.
127 Rasmussen, et al. 2013.
128 Ariza-Montes, et al. 2016.
129 Moon, et al. 2015.
130 http://www.ei-ie.org/en/news/news_details/3673, consulted on 10 March 2016. Wills and Sedghi 2014.
131 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/yukon-teachers-association-says-classroom-violence-is-top-concern-1.3044955,
consulted on 10 March 2016; Centrale des Enseignants du Québec (CEQ) 2000.
132 Blackett 2011, Chen 2011.
133 International Labour Conference, Text of the Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers, One hundredth
session, Geneva, 2011, article 5 provides that “Each Member shall take measures to ensure that domestic workers enjoy
effective protection against all forms of abuse, harassment and violence.”
134 Vega Ruiz 2011, DeSouza and Cerqueira 2009.
135 Hanley, et al. 2010, Smith 2011.
136 Nyabuti Ondimu 2007.
137 Varia 2011.
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens
21
hazards for domestic workers, including those related to violence, have been the subject of
a recent systematic review of the literature from around the world138. Challenges for labour
inspectorates are exacerbated because domestic work is done in private homes139.
1.2.2.4. Working with the public
Bus drivers in El Salvador went on strike in 2015 to denounce gang violence of which they
were targets140. In Canada and the United States, unions representing transport workers
denounced an increase in violence towards their members and the Canadian Criminal
Code was amended as a result of their mobilisation141. The literature on violence against
bus drivers is sparse, although violence has been identified as a risk factor for public
transit workers142. In the United States, taxi drivers are also disproportionately targeted,
with a homicide rate four times higher than that of workers in law enforcement143.
A recent literature review of violence, including physical violence, bullying and sexual
harassment in the hospitality industry found that a high prevalence was reported
144
, a
confirmation of a previous study by the International Labour Office published in 2003
145
.
Sexual harassment and homophobic harassment were the subject of detailed analysis
in a study of the hospitality work environment involving students in the United Kingdom
who were deployed in placements both inside and outside the United Kingdom
146
. Sexual
harassment has been found to be prevalent in the hospitality industry in studies from
New Zealand
147
, the United Kingdom
148
Canada
149
and Zimbabwe
150
, several studies
identifying a tolerance and trivialization of sexual harassment in the industry
151
, some
relating it to the tipping system associated with low hourly wages for servers
152
. Bullying in
restaurants was found to be a particular problem for apprentices, a problem compounded
by the belief that bullying was natural in the restaurant work environment
153
. Workers
138 Malhotra, et al. 2013.
139 Vega Ruiz 2011.
140 Reuters, El Salvador bus drivers go on strike as gang violence surges, Reuters World, 27 July 2015. http://www.reuters.
com/article/us-el-salvador-gangs-idUSKCN0Q201720150728, consulted on 29 February 2016.
141 Bill S-221 amended the Canadian Criminal Code to create a new aggravating factor for the purpose of sentencing offend-
ers convicted of assault related offences against a public transit operator who was on duty at the time of the assault. See
http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=953849, consulted on 29 February 2016.
142 Tse, et al. 2006.
143 Schwer, et al. 2010.
144 Ram 2015.
145 Hoel and Einarsen 2003.
146 Ineson, et al. 2013.
147 Poulston 2008.
148 Ineson, et al. 2013.
149 Lippel, et al. 2011b, Matulewicz 2015.
150 Mkono 2010.
151 Poulston 2008.
152 Matulewicz 2015.
153 Mathisen, et al. 2008.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
22
in the sex trade, including escorts, exotic dancers and workers who exchange sexual
services for remuneration are particularly vulnerable to physical and sexual violence
154
.
1.2.2.5. Security (police, prisons, military)
A Danish study155 comparing physical violence and threats of violence in four occupational
sectors (special education, psychiatry, prison and probation services and eldercare) found
that those working with prisoners were less likely to be exposed to physical violence than
workers in the other categories studied. They were also more likely to be threatened than to
be victims of physical violence. Of the four sectors studied, this was the only sector where
the majority of workers were men.
A Quebec study found that inmate assaults on prison guards were relatively rare and when
they did occur were relatively minor physical assaults, and psychological attacks156. However
another Quebec study found that intimidation and harassment between staff members was
particularly high157 and a follow up study examined typologies of interpersonal violence in the
same population158.
An Australian study using workers’ compensation data compared exposures to violence of
security officers and police officers and found the compensation claims rates for injury
attributable to occupational violence was comparable, but the severity of the injuries of the
workers in security was greater159.
A study from the United Kingdom looking at gender differences in the exposure to internal and
external violence of police officers found no gender differences in either form of violence160.
Sexual harassment and sexual assault in the Canadian161 and United States 162 military have
been increasingly the focus of attention in recent years.
1.3. Organizational factors associated with exposure
to various forms of violence
Much has been written about organizational causes of workplace bullying and harassment,
although the studies are primarily from Europe, Australia and North America163. A systematic
review of the literature on occupational violence in Latin America noted that very few Latin
154 Deering, et al. 2014.
155 Rasmussen, et al. 2013.
156 Gomez 2012.
157 Bourbonnais, et al. 2007.
158 Jauvin, et al. 2011.
159 Ferguson, et al. 2011.
160 Santos, et al. 2009.
161 Berthiaume 2015, Deschamps, 2015.
162 Clark, 2015.
163 Salin and Hoel 2011.
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens
23
American studies focused on organizational factors, and the authors identified this as a priority
for research164. A Mexican study set in the Maquiladoras examined organizational factors
related to occupational violence, including both physical violence and sexual harassment165.
A study of workplace bullying in the Information Technology (IT) sector in India noted the
relevance of considering national contexts in order to understand the workplace bullying-
organizational change link166.
Here we will present three categories of organizational factors: psychosocial hazards, non-
standard employment contracts and normalization of violence associated with organizational
cultures.
1.3.1. Psychosocial hazards as fertile ground for occupational violence
The challenge of psychosocial risk factors is high on the agenda in many countries167, and the
links with workplace violence have been the focus of considerable attention in the literature.
Bullying and harassment are in themselves considered as psychosocial hazards, but studies
on other forms of psychosocial hazards that have been found to be precursors of violence in
the workplace are considered.
A study that compared working conditions of workers in several Canadian long-term care
facilities with those of their Scandinavian counterparts found very large disparities in
exposure levels of the Canadian workers to physical violence: 43 per cent of Canadians
reported being exposed daily as compared to 5-8 per cent of their Scandinavian
counterparts. This was also true with regard to exposures to unwanted sexual attention:
14 per cent of Canadian careworkers studied as compared to less than 1.5 per cent of the
Scandinavians. The authors link these different outcomes to structural factors that exposed
the workers to various psychosocial risk factors in residential care facilities in Canada.
These included heavy workload, insufficient staff, rigid work routines, lack of decision-
making autonomy and inadequate relational care
168
. This study is one of many that provide
evidence of the mechanisms by which occupational physical violence is linked to workplace
psychosocial hazards.
Job strain and lack of social support were found to have a bidirectional relationship with
workplace violence (non-physical aggression) in an Italian study of healthcare workers. Those
exposed to job strain and lack of social support in the previous year were more likely to report
non-physical aggression the year after, and those exposed to workplace violence were more
likely to report low support and high strain the subsequent year169.
164 Ansoleaga, et al. 2015.
165 Scarone Adarga 2014.
166 D’Cruz, et al. 2014.
167 Eurofound and OEU-OSHA 2014, Eurofound 2015.
168 Banerjee, et al. 2012. See also Banerjee, et al. 2015.
169 Magnavita 2014.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
24
A study of police officers in Australia provides evidence of the links between the psychosocial
risk factors measured (a combination of high job demands, low job control and low support
resources) and higher levels of reported bullying. The authors provide suggestions as to the
explanatory pathways:
“Stressful working conditions (such as the combination of high demands, low job control, and low
support) may provide fertile soil for negative interactions in three ways, by (a) raising employee
arousal and lowering the threshold for anger, aggression, and conflict within a work group;
(b) increasing the likelihood that employees will voice concerns, which may be met with punitive
(i.e. bullying) responses by superiors; and (c) triggering the projection of anger, frustration, and
tension down the line from managers to subordinates and across work groups from one employee
to another. These mechanisms may operate between a supervisor and a subordinate or between
colleagues and, if the pattern of negative behavior continues, may eventually develop into a
bullying relationship.”
170
Several studies have demonstrated associations between bullying/harassment/mobbing and
other psychosocial hazards including job strain171, iso-strain172, effort reward imbalance173,
role conflict174, job insecurity175 and others. Restructuring as a fertile ground for the
development of workplace bullying has also been examined176. Some studies have found
that women, as compared to men, had a higher prevalence of exposure to psychosocial
hazards177, although the Eurofound studies found that gender associations varied depending
on the hazards and countries studied17 8. The exposure to psychosocial work factors also has
been found to vary between countries179, and, over time, improvement or deterioration of
conditions varies between countries and occupational categories180.
1.3.2. Non-standard employment contracts and exposure to violence
Exposure to various forms of occupational violence has been found to be associated with
different categories of non-standard employment, particularly temporary or fixed-term
employment, although results seem to vary depending on the nature of the violence. Several
studies have found that temporary employees are at increased risk for exposure to sexual
harassment
181
. However exposure to workplace bullying was found to be less prevalent for
temporary workers as compared to workers with indeterminate contracts in both Quebec
182
170 Tuckey, et al. 2009, p. 228.
171 Baillien, et al. 2011, Lippel, et al. 2011b.
172 Tuckey, et al. 2009, Lippel, et al. 2011b.
173 Lippel, et al. 2011b.
174 Baillien and De Witte 2009.
175 Baillien and De Witte 2009, De Cuyper, et al. 2009, Lippel, et al. 2011b.
176 D’Cruz, et al. 2014, Baillien and De Witte 2009.
177 Vézina, et al. 2011, Campos-Serna, et al. 2013.
178 Eurofound and OEU-OSHA 2014.
179 Niedhammer, et al. 2012.
180 Malard, et al. 2013.
181 In Australia: LaMontagne, et al. 2009; in Quebec: Lippel, et al. 2011b.
182 Lippel, et al. 2011b.
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens
25
and Australia
183
. This was not the case in Japan, where temporary workers were found
to have had higher exposure levels to bullying as compared to those with indeterminate
contracts
184
. Findings that temporary employees were more likely to be targeted were
reported in the Eurofound studies of “Adverse Social Behaviours” (ASBs), although this
measure grouped together verbal abuse, unwanted sexual attention, threats or humiliating
behaviour
185
.
1.3.3. Normalization and naturalization of violence in particular sectors
Several studies address the “naturalization” or “normalization” of occupational violence as
workers and employers may believe that physical violence, bullying, or sexual harassment is
part of the job. This has been identified as a contributor to trivialization of physical violence in
education186 and healthcare187, for instance, and it has the effect of making violence invisible,
as workers and supervisors fail to report incidents of violence188, which makes prevention
more difficult. It is also a problem from a research perspective, as workers surveyed may fail
to report physical violence if they see it as being part of the job189. This is also true of gender-
based violence, which will go unreported everywhere, although there are important variations
by region190. This may also be true with regard to reporting about any category of violence
by women occupying non-traditional jobs where acceptance by colleagues may preclude
complaining about physical violence, bullying or sexual harassment. Men may be more likely
to report a violent incident that takes place at work, reporting in those circumstances being
validated as “an act of duty” to shed light on working conditions191.
Normalization of bullying and other forms of abuse has also been studied in the healthcare
sector192, in restaurants193 and in call centres194. Both supervisors and colleagues can
contribute to the process of normalization whereby violent behaviour by clients or patients is
attributed to the worker’s (in)ability to manage the potentially violent195. Sexual harassment
is seen as part of the job in some hospitality workplaces196, a phenomenon that some authors
relate to practices of tipping197.
183 Keuskamp, et al. 2012.
184 Tsuno, et al. 2015.
185 Eurofound 2015.
186 Rasmussen, et al. 2013.
187 Baby, et al. 2014, Jones and Lyneham 2001, Rasmussen, et al. 2013, Gates, et al. 2011, Pich, et al. 2011.
188 Baines 2006, Rasmussen, et al. 2013, Blando, et al. 2015.
189 Heiskanen 2007.
190 Palermo, et al. 2014.
191 Burcar, 2013, citing a Swedish language study by Akerstrom published in 1997.
192 Hutchinson, et al. 2010.
193 Mathisen, et al. 2008.
194 Bishop, et al. 2005.
195 Bishop, et al. 2005.
196 Poulston 2008.
197 Matulewicz 2015, Albin 2011.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
26
1.4. Effects of exposure to workplace violence
Although a thorough analysis of this issue goes beyond the scope of this report it must be
noted that there is a significant body of literature on health effects of exposure to physical198
and psychological violence in the workplace199, including many studies on the health effects of
bullying and harassment200. An overview of the literature from a global perspective concluded
that “the health related consequences of psychological violence can be as severe as those for
physical violence” and that workplace violence ‘is a major occupational health hazard in all
nations, regardless of their state of development’201. As these overviews of the literature have
shown, bullying can lead to a broad range of mental health problems, including depression202,
psychological distress203, post-traumatic stress disorder204, and suicidal ideation205. Studies
have shown long term health effects as well206. Psychological violence can have physical
consequences, including musculoskeletal disorders that have been found to be associated
with exposure to a hostile work environment207, sexual harassment208 and bullying209.
Workplace violence, among other psychosocial hazards studied, was found to be a determinant
of long sickness absence in Europe, with almost no difference observed according to gender
or country210.
Some studies focus on health effects of violence in specific sectors, notably the health care
sector211. Both physical and psychological consequences of physical212 and psychological
violence, including sexual harassment213 have been well documented214.
A meta-analysis examined variations in outcomes depending on the source of the violence
and the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. It found that the majority of
198 Lanctôt and Guay 2014.
199 Ansoleaga, et al. 2015.
200 For an extensive review of the literature on antecedents and consequences of bullying in the workplace see Samnani
and Singh 2012. See also Hogh, et al. 2011, Hogh, et al. 2012, Gullander, et al. 2014. For a review of the literature
on sickness absence and bullying see Nielsen, et al. 2016b. The authors note that the relationship between sickness
absence and bullying may be bidirectional, that is to say that bullying may precede or follow a worker’s sickness absence.
Cross-sectional studies have found associations with presenteeism, psychological distress, symptoms of depression,
musculoskeletal disorders and work accidents: Lippel, et al. 2011b, Conway, et al. 2016, Rugulies, et al. 2012.
201 Mayhew and Chappell 2007.
202 Gullander, et al. 2014, Lippel, et al. 2011b, Rugulies, et al. 2012.
203 Lippel, et al. 2011b, Lippel, et al. 2016.
204 Birkeland Nielsen, et al. 2015b.
205 Birkeland Nielsen, et al. 2015a. A longitudinal study of suicidal ideation associated with workplace bullying behaviours
found that exposure to physically intimidating behaviours is a risk factor for suicidal ideation: Nielsen et al. 2016a.
206 Bonde, et al. 2016.
207 Defined to include threats, bullying or harassment in the previous 12 months: Yang, et al. 2016.
208 Stock and Tissot 2012.
209 Vignoli, et al. 2015.
210 Slany, et al. 2014.
211 Lanctôt and Guay 2014. See also many of the studies from the healthcare sector cited in section 1.2.2.1 of this report.
212 Commission de la santé et de la sécurité au travail 2015.
213 Stock and Tissot 2012.
214 Birkeland Nielsen, et al. 2015a.
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens
27
health outcomes were not significantly different, when comparing violence by a supervisor, a
co-worker or an outside aggressor. However other outcomes measured, including attitudinal
outcomes (job satisfaction, affective commitment and turnover intent) and behavioural
outcomes (interpersonal deviance, organizational deviance and work performance) varied
depending on the perpetrator. Supervisor aggression had the strongest adverse effects
on attitudinal and behavioural outcomes215. There are many other studies examining the
consequences of violence for organizations216. Chappell and DiMartino discuss the costs of
occupational violence for organizations and society217 and some studies include the effects
on the victims and their families, the organization and the community218. A recent Australian
study has quantified the economic cost of depression-related productivity loss attributable to
job strain and bullying219. The ILO has published reports on the cost of violence and stress
at work220.
1.5. Primary, secondary and tertiary prevention strategies
Primary, secondary and tertiary prevention strategies are grounded in a public health approach
to violence, which reminds us that any eventual regulatory attention envisaged should include
within its scope provisions designed to protect workers’ health221. Applied in the context of
workplace violence, primary prevention aims to prevent the violent incident before it occurs;
secondary prevention aims to avoid or reduce the impact of the negative health consequences
potentially associated with the exposure to violence; tertiary prevention aims to soften the
impact of those injuries or illnesses sustained because of workplace violence, that have
lasting consequences for the worker. Some of the literature on workplace violence includes a
focus on these three layers of prevention222.
The analysis is restricted to prevention of violent incidents in the workplace, although there
is a great deal of literature addressing the importance of mitigating the health consequences
of violence.
1.5.1. Preventing physical violence
Prevention strategies with regard to physical violence vary by country and by sector. A
systematic review of the literature on effectiveness of interventions in preventing workplace
violence (criminal/physical) in the United States relies on both the typologies of violence
215 Hershcovis and Barling 2010. For a study on affective commitment among bullied schoolteachers in China see McCor-
mack, et al. 2006.
216 See for example Wing Lo, et al. 2012, Gates, et al. 2011, Hoel, et al. 2011.
217 Chappell and Di Martino 2006, pp. 137-141.
218 See for example Bowman, et al. 2009.
219 McTernan, et al. 2013
220 Hoel, et al. 2001b, http://www.ilo.org/safework/info/publications/WCMS_108532/lang--en/index.htm.
221 http://www.iwh.on.ca/wrmb/primary-secondary-and-tertiary-prevention
222 See for example Moreau, et al. 2010. An unpublished report of the ILO provides detailed descriptions of ways labour
inspectors can intervene to ensure primary, secondary and tertiary prevention in relation to exposure to psychosocial
risk factors at work. Various forms of physical violence and harassment are included in the psychosocial risk factors ad-
dressed by the report: ILO, unpublished.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
28
developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and
categories of interventions developed by Merchant and Lundell223, including environmental
(for example lighting), organizational and administrative (i.e. programmes, policies, staffing)
and behavioural (i.e. training)224.
A large survey of Australian medical practitioners examined aggression prevention and
minimization actions and found that four interventions were present in at least 60 per cent
of workplaces. These included policies, protocols and procedures advocating a zero-tolerance
approach to workplace aggression; incident reporting and follow-up systems; patient and
public access restrictions and building security systems225.
Internal violence is often addressed by sanctioning the aggressor, for example in zero-tolerance
workplace policies that employers rely on to take disciplinary action against workers who
have performed violent acts targeting colleagues or clients (pupils or patients, for example).
Popular in the United States, these policies may also inadvertently provide opportunities for
discrimination, particularly if they are not applied consistently226.
External violence in the health care and social service sectors, for example, is sometimes
attributable to organizational factors: clients dissatisfied with long, unexplained waiting
times, understaffing that leads to poor quality service, or cost-saving measures that lead to
dissatisfaction227. In such cases, studies suggest that prevention starts with the improvement
in the quality of services, which may require investment in additional staff, development of
effective complaints mechanisms that channel the voice of the dissatisfied clients, but also
provision of mechanisms to ensure that workers have a voice in the development of strategies
to improve relations with the clientele228. In some countries, time and motion studies have
not considered the value of the relationship or rapport between the worker and the patient
or the student, so that the resulting staffing levels prevent workers from spending any time
preserving the humanity of their rapport with the client. This not only has health effects for the
clients, but also can lead to violent behaviour from the dissatisfied and frustrated clientele229.
Improving the quality of service is a suggested prevention strategy in these studies. In their
review of the literature on prevention, Moreau and colleagues also note organizational protocols
that permit risk assessments specific to the organization, and responses associated with the
risks identified. One example applies to the protection of the occupational physician from
violence, and includes an overarching protocol, training materials addressing procedures that
223 Merchant and Lundell 2001.
224 Wassell 2009.
225 Hills, et al. 2013.
226 See, for example, HR Specialist: Ohio Employment Law, “Establish zero-tolerance policy on violence and threats- but
don’t count on backup from courts.” http://web.b.ebscohost.com.proxy.bib.uottawa.ca/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=52
d0fbd2-547c-4f49-8aac-7950e1beb453%40sessionmgr106&vid=1&hid=125, consulted on July 15th, 2016. See also
Casas Becerra 2016, who shows that labour tribunals in Chile are often sympathetic to the perpetrator who sanctioned
because of a sexual harassment complaint.
227 For example, in a Canadian study on workplace violence the use of cost-saving strategies based on rationing of diapers
in a residential care facility was found to be a trigger of violent incidents by residents against staff, who were instructed
to not change a diaper of an incontinent patient unless a blue line appeared on the diaper, showing it to be sufficiently
saturated to justify the cost of changing the diaper. See Armstrong, et al. 2009.
228 Moreau, et al. 2010, Banerjee, et al. 2012.
229 Banerjee, et al. 2008, Armstrong, et al. 2009, Moreau, et al. 2010, Banerjee, et al. 2012, Banerjee, et al. 2015.
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens
29
need to be in place, recommended behavioural responses to aggression, and other tools,
including a debriefing method to be applied after violent incidents230. Specific programs
designed to provide training to home health and hospice providers have been implemented in
California. A recent evaluation study found that implementation of guidelines by workplaces
was variable and the quality of the training provided was not perceived to be excellent.
The authors concluded that access to violence prevention training and improved quality of
training was necessary for the prevention strategies described in the Occupational Health
and Safety Administration Guidelines to be effective231.
Physical violence in education in the United States has been the subject of a task force and
several recent studies designed to identify risk factors and prevention strategies232. Authors
suggest that addressing environmental factors would have the most impact on prevention.
Illumination of interior environments, ensuring accessible exits and conducting routine locker
searches were three strategies proposed by the authors233.
In the United States, work-related violence was responsible for 16 per cent of occupational
fatalities in 2014234, and research to reduce the risk of homicide outside of specific sectors
has identified bright lighting and staffing as factors associated with reduction in risk235.
NIOSH has an ongoing research programme looking at strategies for the prevention of
workplace violence, focusing in particular on physical assault and criminal violence236.
Visibility of physical violence in the workplace depends on reporting practices, which vary
between countries and professions. In Denmark, where reporting systems are integrated in
violence prevention policies and in cases of sickness absence related to violence at work, it is
possible for regulators to track the prevalence of violent incidents, although even in Denmark
some incidents go unreported237. In most other countries, reported incidents of violence in
the workplace are likely to be the tip of the iceberg.
A recent study from New Zealand238 used a systems approach to understand workplace assault
on persons and property. The study was informed by the Chappell and DiMartino systems
model239, which they found to be "particularly useful in assisting in risk assessment as it
depicts the interactive role of individual, workplace, contextual and societal risk factors in the
aetiology of workplace violence events."240. The authors used New Zealand data from a survey
of organizations on workplace violence that included questions on perceptions of risk factors in
their organizations, in order to shed light on occupational violence and prevention strategies.
Organizational factors of importance included workload, time pressure and organizational
230 Moreau, et al. 2010 p. 39.
231 Vladutiu, et al. 2016.
232 Espelage, et al. 2013, Reddy, et al. 2013, Gerberich, et al. 2014, McMahon, et al. 2014
233 Gerberich et al. 2014.
234 http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.t01.htm consulted on 21 February 2016.
235 Loomis, et al. 2002.
236 http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/violence/traumaviol_research.html, consulted on 21 February 2016.
237 Rasmussen, et al. 2013.
238 Bentley, et al. 2014.
239 Chappell and Di Martino 2006.
240 Bentley, et al. 2014, p. 840.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
30
communication, particularly in the health, construction and manufacturing sectors. Working
in isolation and inadequate training were also identified in relation to the health care sector.
The study is of interest notably because it is one of the few to take an ergonomics approach
to occupational violence. The authors conclude that focus on organizational measures and
safety culture “is the area in which ergonomics can perhaps have greatest impact, through
analysis of weaknesses in work systems with regard to violence, and particularly those features
of task, environment and organisational design that create violence risk [...].241
1.5.2. Preventing psychological violence and sexual harassment
There is a large body of literature on violence prevention policies and practices designed
to reduce or eliminate psychological violence and sexual harassment. Given the association
between exposure to psychosocial risk factors and workplace bullying and harassment, the
literature on reduction of exposure to psychosocial risk factors is relevant to the prevention
of bullying and harassment. The role of occupational health and safety inspectorates in the
prevention of psychological violence, and more broadly psychosocial risk factors has been
documented in several studies from the Nordic countries242 and in Spain243 and elsewhere
in Europe and the Americas244. Given that psychosocial risk factors have been shown to be
associated with psychological violence, prevention strategies proposed in the literature often
focus on addressing the psychosocial risk factors such as job demands and insufficient
resources245
Policies and practices designed for preventing workplace bullying and harassment have been
discussed extensively in the literature24 6, and tools and strategies for inspectorates have been
proposed in a study commissioned by the ILO247.
Research on intervention strategies for prevention is prolific. A systematic review248 of articles
evaluating workplace interventions designed to reduce workplace bullying or incivility critically
appraised 12 interventions, after having filtered several thousands articles addressing the
issue. Their review of the literature found that it indicated “poor organisational response” to
bullying, and noted interventions at the organizational level were preferable to interventions
targeting individuals249.
Hodgins and colleagues found that of the 12 studies on interventions they retained “half the
studies focused on changing individual behaviours or knowledge about bullying or incivility”.
Duration of interventions ranged from a few hours to two years, and few studies examined
the situation before and after the intervention. The authors focus in particular on the CREW
241 Bentley, et al. 2014, p. 847.
242 Bruhn and Frick 2011, Rasmussen, et al. 2011.
243 Velázquez 2010.
244 Velázquez 2013.
245 Ariza-Montes, et al. 2016.
246 Vartia and Leka 2011.
247 ILO unpublished. We discuss some of these in Part II of this report.
248 Hodgins, et al. 2014.
249 Hodgins, et al. 2014, citing Vartia and Leka 2011.
Part 1: Conceptualizing workplace violence through a gender lens
31
(Civility, Respect and Engagement in the Workplace) intervention, ”which is designed to
address incivility”250 from an organisational perspective.
A recent study on an intervention targeting supervisors and designed to improve workplace
climate in support of victims of domestic violence found the training provided to supervisors
to have improved supervisor knowledge and workplace climate with regard to intimate partner
violence251.
There are numerous evaluative studies252 and the literature suggests that evaluation should
be sector specific253. Some studies distinguish between strategies appropriate to the public
and private sectors254. Obstacles to effective prevention have been documented in the health
care sector255 and an American evaluation of workplace violence over time has found that
considerable progress has been made in the retail sector, while challenges remain in segments
of the health care sector256.
Publications in French written to inform regulators and specialists in prevention have
developed specific models of intervention adapted to guide those responsible for assuring
prevention of violence in the workplace. Several studies focus on the importance of analysing
the organisational context in which violent incidents take place257. This model, developed by
researchers from the French Institut National de Recherche Scientifique (INRS), sheds light
on the importance of including a broad range of factors of various categories in designing
diagnostic tools for managing and intervening in situations of workplace violence.
A Quebec study described a participatory intervention in three detention facilities where
workplace internal violence was high258. The interventions were designed with the support
of the local bi-partite health and safety committees and were based on three categories
of changes: “the adoption of more participatory (democratic) practices that recognize the
importance of each employee; the adjustment of work methods so as to provide practice
guidelines and the development of ways and means to foster healthy interpersonal relations
and personal well-being.” The team implemented the intervention and then evaluated its
outcomes. Interestingly, not only did they see improvements in the facilities where changes
had been implemented, they also found that “the intervention research process itself
contributed to a number of appreciable changes extending beyond the specific facilities
targeted by the research.259
250 This intervention is described in the following articles cited by Hodgins, et al. 2014: Osatuke, et al. 2009, Leiter et al
2011, Leiter et al, 2012.
251 Glass, et al. 2016.
252 For systematic reviews of the literature see Wassell 2009 and Hodgins, et al. 2014.
253 Gadegaard, et al. 2015.
254 Fredericksen and McCorkle 2013, Tummers, et al. 2016.
255 Blando, et al. 2015.
256 Menendez, et al. 2012.
257 Favaro, 2016.
258 Dussault, et al. 2012. The website of the research institute that published this report also provides guidance materials
for workplace parties: http://www.irsst.qc.ca/prevention-violence/en/process.html
259 Dussault, et al. 2012. p. iv
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
32
While an exhaustive discussion of the literature evaluating the effectiveness of interventions
for the prevention of violence goes beyond the scope of this report, it is clear from the
examples above that there are a large number of tools to assist inspectorates and workplace
parties in developing strategies for the prevention of both physical and psychological violence
in the workplace.
33
PART 2
Designing gender sensitive legislation and policies
addressing workplace violence
Here a sample of regulatory and other normative solutions currently in existence is examined,
and when relevant mention is made of gender considerations in the design and evaluation of
regulatory protections addressing violence in the workplace.
2.1. International regulatory instruments
An exhaustive inventory of regulatory instruments governing occupational violence goes
beyond the scope of this report. In 2006, the ILO publication on violence at work provided a
solid overview of international instruments governing workplace violence, as well as providing
illustrations of regulatory interventions in many countries260. Here we will touch upon a few
developments since the publication of that report. Before discussing specific instruments, it
is worthy of note that there have been several studies on the role of regulatory frameworks in
providing incentives for organizational policy development for the reduction of psychosocial
risks, including occupational violence. Each country may favour one type of intervention
over the other, conceptualizing the problem as one relating to equality in the workplace,
occupational health and safety, or criminal law. However the importance of regulatory
incentives in promoting change in the workplace is now the subject of discussion in many
studies from Europe261 and elsewhere. Here we will provide a summary overview of the types
of regulatory instruments that can apply, and when applicable focus on specific types of
violence addressed by policy and regulation.
We will first present international instruments, including those from the ILO and the European
Union. We will then look at national instruments, followed by an overview of hazard-specific
legislation, including both trans-national and national examples.
2.1.1. ILO Instruments and other initiatives
Various ILO instruments already address issues related to occupational violence in specific
sectors, such as the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) and the Domestic
260 Chappell and Di Martino 2006. See in particular chapter 8.
261 Iavicoli, et al. 2011, Leka, et al. 2011c.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
34
Workers Recommendation, 2011 (No. 201), in which Articles 7 and 21 address violence and
abuse of domestic workers:
Article 7. Members should consider establishing mechanisms to protect domestic workers from
abuse, harassment and violence, such as:
(a) establishing accessible complaint mechanisms for domestic workers to report cases of abuse,
harassment and violence;
(b) ensuring that all complaints of abuse, harassment and violence are investigated, and prosecuted,
as appropriate; and
(c) establishing programmes for the relocation from the household and rehabilitation of domestic
workers subjected to abuse, harassment and violence, including the provision of temporary
accommodation and health care.
Article 21. (f) providing for a public outreach service to inform domestic workers, in languages
understood by them, of their rights, relevant laws and regulations, available complaint mechanisms
and legal remedies, concerning both employment and immigration law, and legal protection against
crimes such as violence, trafficking in persons and deprivation of liberty, and to provide any other
pertinent information they may require.
As mentioned by Chappell and DiMartino, although Convention No. 111 on discrimination
in employment and occupation, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, does
not explicitly address sexual harassment, the Committee of Experts on the Application of
Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), in its 1996 report “has expressed its view
that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination [that] should be addressed within
the requirements of the Convention.” It has since “urged governments to take appropriate
measures to prohibit sexual harassment in employment and occupation”262.
In 2010 the ILO adopted the Recommendation concerning HIV and AIDS and the World of
Work263 that provides in Paragraph 3(c) that “there should be no discrimination against or
stigmatization of workers, in particular jobseekers and job applicants, on the grounds of real
or perceived HIV status or the fact that they belong to regions of the world or segments of the
population perceived to be at greater risk of or more vulnerable to HIV infection. It further
provides, in Paragraph 14(c), that “Measures should be taken in or through the workplace
to reduce the transmission of HIV and alleviate its impact by ensuring actions to prevent and
prohibit violence and harassment in the workplace.
In 2016, the ILO adopted amendments to the Code of the Maritime Labour Convention
2006 that explicitly require that account be taken “of the latest version of the Guidance on
eliminating shipboard harassment and bullying jointly published by the International Chamber
262 Chappell and Di Martino 2006, pp. 266-267. They rely on the following source: General Survey on ‘Equality in
Employment and Discrimination’ in 1996 that includes a definition of sexual harassment (par. 39). More recently
discriminatory harassment and violence was addressed in a variety of ILO reports including the 2011 Global Report
On Equality And Discrimination at Work: http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/100thSession/reports/reports-submitted/
WCMS_154779/lang--en/index.htm and in the CEACR’s country specific observations: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/
en/f?p=1000:20010:0::NO:::.
263 Available at http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:12100:0::NO:12100:P12100_INSTRUMENT_ID:2551501
Adoption: Geneva, 99th ILC session (17 Jun 2010).
35
Part 2: Designing gender sensitive legislation and policies addressing workplace violence
of Shipping and the International Transport Workers’ Federation.264 Violence is also included
as an issue within the purview of the 2015 Recommendation 204 concerning the Transition
from the Informal to the Formal Economy, 2015 (No. 204), Paragraph 11(f) which provides
for “the promotion of equality and the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence,
including gender-based violence, at the workplace”265.
Several ILO publications address violence in specific sectors, including the service sector266,
the education sector267 and the garment sector268. The ILO, in partnership with the International
Council of Nurses, the World Health Organization and Public Services International, has
published tools for training in the implementation of Framework Guidelines for Addressing
Workplace Violence in the Health Sector269.
There are also reports and guidance materials that discuss prevention of violence, including
discriminatory harassment270. Chappell and DiMartino provide a detailed analysis of ILO
instruments that address workplace violence271, which we will not repeat here. As we can see
from this overview, there is no overarching convention of the ILO that addresses workplace
violence from a holistic perspective, although bits and pieces of different instruments address
specific sub-categories of violence in some sectors.
2.1.2. European instruments
2.1.2.1. The European Social Charter
The European Social Charter has been used in recent years as a tool to ensure Member States
provide adequate occupational health and safety protections272. The Social Charter includes
provisions prohibiting sexual harassment273 and psychological or moral harassment274, and
requires annual reports to the Commission from EU countries, reporting on their progress
made in eradicating these forms of violence275.
264 ILO, Amendments to the Code relating to Regulation 4.3 of the MLC, 2006, Provisional Record 3-1A, 105th Session
of the International Labour Conference, June 7th, 2016: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---relconf/
documents/meetingdocument/wcms_488452.pdf, consulted on July 20th 2016.
265 Adopted by the International Labour Conference at its one hundred and fourth session, Geneva, 12 June 2015.
266 ILO, 2003.
267 ILO and UNESCO 2012.
268 ILO 2014.
269 ILO et al. 2005.
270
See for example Preventing Discrimination, Exploitation and Abuse of Women Migrant Workers: An Information Guide,
http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_emp/documents/instructionalmaterial/wcms_116366.pdf, consulted on
9 March 2016; Gender identity and sexual orientation: Promoting rights, diversity and equality in the world of work
(PRIDE0 Project, http://www.ilo.org/declaration/follow-up/tcprojects/WCMS_351654/lang--en/index.htm, consulted
July
11th 2016; Discriminatory Harassment At Work Based On Age (2008): http://www.ilo.org/public/libdoc/ilo/2008/108B09_217_
engl.pdf; The Promotion of LGBT Human Rights in the Workplace, http://www.ilo.org/public/libdoc/ilo/2015/489434.pdf.
http://www.ilo.org/public/libdoc/ilo/2014/114B09_229_engl.pdf
271 Chappell and Di Martino 2006, pp. 266-272.
272 Łasak 2009.
273 See Article 26 (1) ECSR 2014, conclusions: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/socialcharter/Conclusions/Conclusion-
sIndex_en.asp;
274 See Article 26 (2).
275 See http://hudoc.esc.coe.int/eng, consulted on 11 March 2016.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
36
2.1.2.2. Directives and framework agreements
The European Directive 89/391 on occupational health and safety in the workplace has
provided a key incentive for the assessment and management of exposure to psychosocial
risk factors in the workplace, and more specifically for the prevention of workplace bullying
and harassment276.
The Council Directive 2000/78/EC of November 27th, 2000 establishing a general framework
for equal treatment in employment and occupation277 deems harassment to be a form of
discrimination, prohibited under article 2, if the harassment is related to a prohibited ground
of discrimination named in article 1, which includes religion or belief, disability, age or sexual
orientation.
Article 2 (3) defines harassment:
“Harassment shall be deemed to be a form of discrimination within the meaning of paragraph 1,
when unwanted conduct related to any of the grounds referred to in Article 1 takes place with
the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile,
degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. In this context, the concept of harassment may be
defined in accordance with the national laws and practice of the Member States”.
While discrimination on the basis of sex and family status had been prohibited since 1976278,
sexual harassment was included as a prohibited ground of discriminatory harassment in
2002279, which provides the following definitions, at article 2(2):
“harassment: where an unwanted conduct related to the sex of a person occurs with the purpose
or effect of violating the dignity of a person, and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading,
humiliating or offensive environment;
sexual harassment: where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual
nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when
creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
The Framework agreement on harassment and violence at work was adopted by the European
Social Partners in 2007280 for the purpose of raising the understanding of the workplace
parties as to the importance of preventing and managing workplace violence, including
harassment. It aims to “prevent and where necessary, manage problems of bullying, sexual
276 Velázquez 2010, Iavicoli, et al. 2011, Lerouge, 2010, Lerouge, 2011, Velázquez Fernandez 2015.
277 Council Directive 2000/78/EC of November 27th, 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employ-
ment and occupation, Official Journal of the European Communities, L 303/16, 2.12.2000.
278 Council Directive 76/207/EEC of 9 February 1976 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men
and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion and working conditions, article 2. http://
eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31976L0207:en:HTML, consulted on July 14th, 2016.
279 Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 amending Council Directive
76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employ-
ment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri
=OJ:L:2002:269:0015:0020:EN:PDF, consulted July 14th, 2016.
280 Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament transmitting the European Framework
Agreement on Harassment and Violence at Work, Brussels, 8.1.2007 COM (2007) 686 final.
37
Part 2: Designing gender sensitive legislation and policies addressing workplace violence
harassment and physical violence at the workplace” and “confirms the duty of the employer
to protect workers against them”.
The European framework for psychosocial risk management (PRIMA-EF), developed through
a collaboration between experts, researchers, social partners and international organizations
was designed to provide a framework for harmonizing practice and methods in the area of
psychosocial risk management, including various forms of workplace violence281.
In 2010, the European social partners agreed to guidelines designed to address third-party
violence and harassment at work282. These guidelines were designed “to ensure that each
workplace has a results-oriented policy which addresses the issue of third-party violence”.
The guidelines were signed by social partners from the local and regional government,
healthcare, commerce, private security and education sectors, sectors where violence
propagated by clients and other third parties is said to be of increasing concern for the
social partners. The guidelines are designed to cover physical, psychological, verbal and/or
sexual violence, including both one off events and systematic patterns of behaviour. They
address work-related violence but specifically note that the incidents may be work related
even though they occur outside the workplace, in a “private environment”. The guidelines
also explicitly mention “cyber-bulling/cyber-harassment through a wide range of information
and communication technologies”. The guidelines propose a distinctive approach from that
proposed for prevention of internal violence.
The social partners retained several elements that were key to good practices across all
sectors covered by the guidelines. These include “a partnership approach; clear definitions;
prevention through risk assessment, awareness raising, training; clear reporting and follow-up;
and appropriate evaluation.” Implementation of these guidelines is described as “not [...]
homogenous”283, with governments promoting them in some countries, such as France, but
not in others.
The effectiveness of these initiatives is deserving of scrutiny284. Iavicoli and colleagues
surveyed European stakeholders with regard to their knowledge of legislation on occupational
health and safety, focusing in particular on psychosocial risk factors, including violence,
bullying and mobbing. They found important variations between countries and between
categories of stakeholders, with regard to perceptions as to the importance of addressing
these issues. If we look at results for violence, bullying, and mobbing, 65% considered them
to be an important occupational health concern in their country (74% EU 15 and 53% EU
27) and overall trade unions (74%) and Government (69%) were more likely to agree they
were important as opposed to employers’ associations (43%)285.
281 Leka, et al. 2011a.
282 European Commission, European Social Dialogue: Multi-Sectoral Guidelines to Tackle Third Party Violence and Harass-
ment Related to Work, http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=89&newsId=896&furtherNews=yes, con-
sulted on July 14th, 2016.
283 ILO unpublished, p. 24.
284 Langenhan, et al. 2013.
285 Iavicoli, et al. 2011. Table 3.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
38
2.1.3. Other regional Instruments
2.1.3.1. Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication
of Violence against Women
The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence
against Women
286
specifically addresses sexual harassment in the workplace, under
Article 2, defining violence against women as including “physical, sexual and psychological
violence… including… sexual harassment in the workplace. Under Article 8, State Parties
are required to enact domestic laws and other measures to prevent, punish and eradicate
violence against women.
2.1.3.2. Maputo Protocol
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human Rights and People’s Rights on the Rights of
Women in Africa, commonly known as the Maputo Protocol, was adopted by the African
Union (currently with 36 ratifying Member States) in July 2003. The role of the Protocol
is still limited however due to social-economic and cultural structures that undermine the
role of women in society and limit their rights.287 The Protocol requires state parties to take
measures to combat and punish sexual harassment in the workplace.288 An earlier initiative
from 1997 adopted by the Heads of State or Government of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) is the Declaration on Gender and Development from which came the
2008 Protocol on Gender and Development. Parties to the Protocol, under Article 20, agreed
to enact and enforce legislation prohibiting all forms of gender based violence by 2015.
Article 22 of the Protocol requires State Parties to enact laws and policies, strategies and
programs prohibiting sexual harassment in all spheres, to provide deterrent sanctions for
perpetrators, and to ensure the equal representation of women and men in bodies competent
to hear sexual harassment cases.
2.1.3.3. The CARICOM model legislation
In 1996, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) drafted the CARICOM Model Legislation on
Sexual Harassment in order to assist its member states in crafting domestic laws on this
topic. The model legislation includes provisions calling for the establishment of a tribunal
and of an ad hoc investigation system. Currently only two Caribbean countries (Belize and
St. Lucia) have adopted legislation in response.
Acknowledging that the 1996 model does not cover all recognized forms of sexual harassment,
CARICOM member states are currently considering the adoption of a new bill on sexual
harassment, produced by IMPACT Justice, a project funded by the Government of Canada
addressing deficiencies in the justice sector in CARICOM countries. Among other things, the
286 Convention of Belém do Para on Violence Against Women, (OAS) http://www.oas.org/es/mesecvi/convencion.asp, con-
sulted July 11th, 2016.
287 Viljoen 2009, at p. 46.
288 Art. 13(c) of the Maputo Protocol.
39
Part 2: Designing gender sensitive legislation and policies addressing workplace violence
new Bill, will clarify the definition of sexual harassment and require the employer to formulate
a policy on sexual harassment in the workplace.289
2.1.3.4. Asian initiatives
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Elimination of Violence
Against Children in ASEAN was adopted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) in 2013. The Declaration recognizes that violence occurs in all stages of the life
cycle, including in the workplace, and in public and private spaces (including cyber space).290
The ILO has developed guidance material on sexual harassment in the Asia-Pacific region291
and has also produced guidance material in various languages and targeting specific countries,
for example Cambodia292.
2.1.3.5. Initiatives in the Arab Region
Within the Arab States, the Cairo Declaration on the Post-2015 Development Agenda was
adopted in 2014 by the representatives of the Arab States’ governments participating in
the High Level Meeting on “Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls, Gender
Equality and the Empowerment of Women in the Arab Region” organized by the League
of Arab States, UN Women and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
(ESCWA). In the section on women’s economic empowerment, the Declaration recognizes
the need to provide a work environment where the personal safety and health of employees
is considered and to ensure the protection of women against physical abuse in the workplace.
2.2. National Instruments
This overview of national instruments aims to illustrate the type of regulatory underpinnings
that enable interventions in different national settings. We start with constitutional measures
and human rights protections, and then examine occupational health and safety legislation,
and finally generally applicable legislation including rules governing criminal and civil liability.
2.2.1. Constitutional protections
Constitutional protections in some countries, such as Brazil, guarantee workers’ health and
safety and the protection of workers’ dignity, and it is the Constitution, rather than the
occupational health and safety legislation that provides the underpinnings for judicial action
against workplace bullying and harassment293.
289 The New Today, Sexual Harassment Bill for CARICOM countries (25 February 2016)
290 The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Elimination of Violence against Children in ASEAN,
signed on 9 October 2013, during the 23rd ASEAN Summit.
291 ILO Bangkok Area Office (Nelien Haspels, Zaitun Mohamed Kasim, Constance Thomas and Deirdre McCann), 2001,
Action Against Sexual Harassment at Work in Asia and the Pacific, http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-
bangkok/documents/publication/wcms_bk_pb_159_en.pdf, consulted on July 11th, 2016.
292 http://www.ilo.org/asia/whatwedo/publications/WCMS_241659/lang--en/index.htm, consulted on July 11th, 2016.
293 Gitahy da Paixão 2012.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
40
However, in the United States, constitutional protection of the right to bear arms has been
used to support the rights of workers to bring guns to work, and “guns-at-work” laws have
been adopted in several American states to force employers to tolerate the presence of
firearms in employees’ cars, an issue that has met with resistance by many employers who
have turned to the courts, asking that these laws be struck down as incompatible with
employers’ obligations to ensure the health and safety of its workers294. In 2015, the State of
Texas adopted legislation guaranteeing students the right to bear arms on campus, which has
led to universities developing policies to encourage academics to avoid conflict295. Studies
have shown that workplaces where guns are permitted under employers’ policies, are 5 times
as likely to experience a homicide as those where guns are prohibited296.
In many countries the right to equal treatment is enshrined in the Constitution, and that right
provides protection to workers who are the target of discriminatory violence in all its forms.
2.2.2. Human rights legislation
Human rights legislation prohibits discrimination on the basis of specified characteristics that
vary from one jurisdiction to the next. For example, North American, Australian and European
legislation297 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, ethnic origin, but protection
against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, age or other characteristics has
taken longer, and some countries still fail to protect targets of discrimination based on sexual
orientation, for example298. Discriminatory harassment was prohibited in most countries long
before regulatory provisions on bullying299.
Sexual and homophobic harassment were the subject of a study in the hospitality industry
that reported on regulatory models to address the issues identified, drawn from human rights
legislation in various countries300. The analysis shows cultural variations in definitions, and
non-inclusion of homophobic harassment in some jurisdictions.
The existence of regulatory protection does not imply that discrimination is eradicated, as is
made clear in a British study, which found that the existence of regulations led to unjustified
assumptions that discrimination was no longer a problem301.
294 Glazer-Esh 2009. This is not a marginal issue, as can be seen from this Wall Street Journal article that asserts that 22
U.S. states have enacted such laws: http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB100014240527023039839045790955320
26750354?mod=e2tw, consulted on 16 February 2016.
295 http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/24/university-of-houston-faculty-campus-carry-law-texas-guns, consult-
ed on 25 February 2016. Other states, including Utah, have similar laws: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/03/us/
texas-lawmakers-approve-bill-allowing-guns-on-campus.html?_r=0
296 Loomis, et al. 2005.
297 Hyman, et al. 2012.
298 Lerouge and Hébert 2013.
299 Friedman and Whitman 2003, Caponecchia and Wyatt 2009.
300 Ineson, et al. 2013, Table 1.
301 Fevre, et al. 2011n.
41
Part 2: Designing gender sensitive legislation and policies addressing workplace violence
In some jurisdictions, human rights instruments enshrine the right to dignity and the right to
security of the person, as well as the right to decent working conditions. These rights can be
mobilized in the context of workplace violence.
2.2.3. Health and safety legislation
Most countries have legislation governing the prevention of work injury and disease and
providing for compensation for disability resulting from injury or disease sustained at work.
Both these legal frameworks provide regulatory tools for the prevention of violence, prevention
being the primary objective of occupational health and safety statutes, and an indirect
objective of workers’ compensation statutes that provide cost incentives for the prevention
of violence. Workers’ compensation regimes also ensure economic support for victims of
violence and, in some cases, constitute the exclusive remedy of the victim. Here statutes on
occupational health and safety will first be examined, before we turn our attention to workers’
compensation statutes.
2.2.3.1. Legislation governing prevention of occupational injury and disease
Occupational health and safety legislation has been used in a variety of jurisdictions to
mandate research and production of guidance materials and to assist workplaces in the
prevention and management of workplace violence302. In jurisdictions with joint health and
safety committees, studies examine bipartite committee strategies in developing prevention
initiatives and in managing internal complaints, either through general health and safety
committees or through special bipartite committees designed to address occupational
violence303, including harassment and bullying304 and psychosocial hazards305.
Labour inspectorates rely on both general duty clauses306 in occupational health and safety
legislation, and, in some cases, on specific regulations governing violence307, to assist
organizations in developing prevention programs. Some regulators track progress in the
prevention of occupational violence by monitoring workers’ compensation claims for physical
and psychological violence on an annual basis308.
Occupational health and safety legislation can be mobilized to address not only physical
violence, but also psychological violence including bullying and harassment, sexual
harassment, as well as other psychosocial hazards. Coverage is not always explicit, although
302 See for example Wing Lo, et al. 2012. In the United Kingdom see the Health and Safety Executive website: http://www.
hse.gov.uk/violence. In New Zealand see Mills and Hall 2014. In British Columbia, Canada, see http://www2.worksafebc.
com/Topics/BullyingAndHarassment/Home.asp;
303 Dompierre, et al. 2008.
304 Cox 2015.
305 Walters 2011.
306 Lippel, et al. 2011a.
307 Lippel 2011. See for example, in British Columbia, Canada: https://www2.worksafebc.com/Publications/OHSRegulation/
Part4.asp?ReportID=17999
308 For example, the Quebec (Canada) workers’ compensation board publishes annual reports looking at violence in the
workplace. See Commission de la santé et de la sécurité au travail 2015.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
42
there are sometimes explicit provisions on working alone309, and in some cases provisions
explicitly address different forms of occupational violence310.
Sometimes the explicit regulatory interventions distinguish between internal and external
violence in a way that may appear to trivialize internal violence as compared to that involving
perpetrators from outside the workplace. For example, a very early regulation adopted in
British Columbia, Canada prohibits violence from all sources, but labels all forms of violence
by internal perpetrators, including physical or sexual violence, as “improper behaviour,
while reserving the term “violence” for “attempted or actual exercise of physical force by a
person other than a worker so as to cause injury to a worker”
311
. This regulatory approach
may send the message that internal violence is somehow less important than external
violence, particularly given that obligations on employers are less stringent with regard to
“improper behaviour”.
Inspectorates from Australian states312, Denmark313, Sweden314, Spain315 , some Canadian
provinces316 and the United States317, for example, have used the general duty clause to
intervene in relation to various forms of psychological violence. The ILO’s LEGOSH tool
provides information on countries that have provisions of occupational health and safety
legislation that address occupational violence and psychosocial hazards318.
2.2.3.2. Workers’ compensation legislation
Physical injury and some mental disorders are compensable injuries under workers’
compensation legislation if the event or events triggering an injury or illness arise out of
and (or) in the course of employment. This is true in most jurisdictions in North America319
309 Regulations on risk assessments and safety measures to be taken when a worker is working alone exist in the occupation-
al health and safety legislation of many jurisdictions, obliging employers to evaluate the safety requirements associated
with working in isolation. For example, the Health and Safety Executive in the U.K. suggests examples in which working
alone may not be appropriate, including: “working in the health and social care sector dealing with unpredictable client
behaviour and situations”. See HSE, Working alone: Health and Safety Guidance on the Risks of Lone Working, http://
www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg73.pdf, consulted on July 10th, 2016.
310
In Canada, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Manitoba use health and safety inspectors to intervene in some situations involv-
ing psychological violence although the scope of their interventions varies considerably from one jurisdiction to the next:
Lippel 2011. In Ontario see the Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1, part III.0.1. The legislature
recently adopted legislation that strengthens the previous provisions governing physical violence and psychological harass-
ment and includes an explicit focus on sexual violence and harassment: An Act to amend various statutes with respect to
sexual violence, sexual harassment, domestic violence and related matters, Statutes of Ontario, 2016 chapter 2.
311 WorkSafeBC, 1998. Occupational Health and Safety Regulation: Core Requirements, Improper Behaviour; Violence, s.
4.24 – s. 4.27.
312 Johnstone, et al. 2011, Chan-Mok, et al. 2013.
313 Rasmussen, et al. 2011, Starheim and Rasmussen 2014.
314 Bruhn and Frick 2011.
315 Velázquez 2010.
316 Lippel 2011.
317 See Galt 2012, which provides guidance material destined to human resource professionals: http://hr.blr.com/HR-news/
Discrimination/Sexual-Harassment/zns-Sexual-Harassment-and-OSHA-Is-Sexual-Harassmen/#, consulted on 6 March
2016.
318 http://www.ilo.org/dyn/legosh/en/f?p=14100:2000:0::NO:::, consulted on 9 March 2016.
319 Lippel 1989, Lippel and Sikka 2010.
43
Part 2: Designing gender sensitive legislation and policies addressing workplace violence
and Australia320 and to some extent in European countries as well321, although the processes
of applying compensation legislation and the scope of protections provided are quite different,
both because of broader sickness insurance coverage in many countries and because some
countries, like the United Kingdom, do not have formal workers’ compensation systems.
In North America and Australia there are distinctions between states and provinces depending
on the nature of the injury, and there are distinctions relating to the determination as to
whether the violent act is linked to employment. Most North American jurisdictions cover
physical injury attributable to work if the victim was an employee (as opposed to being self-
employed) in an industry covered by the legislation. However there are important disparities
between provinces and between states when the victim of violence develops a mental disorder
as a result. Post-traumatic stress disorder triggered by an acutely traumatic incident will be
a compensable injury everywhere in Canada322, however mental disorders attributable to
chronic stressors (psychological harassment and sexual harassment over several months,
for example), will be covered in some provinces but not in others323. In all provinces, the
violent incident or incidents must arise out of and/or in the course of employment. As a
result, an assault in the workplace attributable to a conflict unrelated to work will usually lead
to the denial of workers’ compensation benefits324. Unlike the situation in many European
countries325 and certain Asian countries, in North American jurisdictions, injury sustained
while travelling to or from work (commuting accidents) is usually not considered to be
compensable. As a result, violent incidents occurring while the worker is travelling to or
from work will ordinarily not be compensable. Given that employers in almost all countries
assume the full costs of compensable injuries under workers’ compensation legislation,
workers’ compensation legislation is used to drive prevention of exposure to occupational
hazards. Inclusion of “commuting accidents” within the purview of all workers’ compensation
legislation would provide economic incentives for employers to prevent unnecessary exposure
to hazards, including violence, associated with travel in sub-optimal conditions. For example,
from a violence prevention perspective it is preferable that shifts be timed to ensure that safe
public transport is available when workers begin or leave work.
Debates can be found in the workers’ compensation context when workers are victims of violence
and employers try to externalize the costs associated with compensation for those injuries.
Workers’ compensation experience rating is a system used in many jurisdictions ostensibly to
320 Guthrie, et al. 2010.
321 Eurogip 2013.
322 Several provinces include a legislative presumption that Post-traumatic stress disorder is an occupational disease when
it affects first respondents. In Ontario, see An Act to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 and the
Ministry of Labour Act with respect to posttraumatic stress disorder, S.O. chapter 4, 2016.
323 Lippel and Sikka 2010; a few Canadian provinces have broadened the scope of coverage for mental health problems
related to harassment since 2010. In the Canadian province of Ontario the workers’ compensation appeal tribunal has
determined that the exclusion of coverage for mental disorders attributable to chronic workplace stressors is unconstitu-
tional. See for a recent example WSIAT Decision 665/10, April 15th, 2016. This series of decisions has induced lawyers
working for employers to encourage their clients to prevent violence and harassment at work, because of potential work-
ers’ compensation costs. See Blaney McMurtry, Preventing Violence and Harassment at Work-Workers’ Compensation
Enters The Equation, Mondaq, March 7th, 2016, http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=471934&email_acce,
consulted July 11th, 2016.
324 Lippel 2001, Lippel and Lanctôt 2014.
325 https://oshwiki.eu/wiki/Commuting_accidents, consulted on 10 March 2016.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
44
provide employers with incentives to prevent the occurrence of injuries and to manage return
to work so as to reduce the risk of chronic disability
326
. In the context of the Quebec system,
for example, an incident will not be charged to the employer’s account if it is attributable to
a third party and if the tribunal believes it to be unjust to ascribe economic liability to the
employer. Employers have tried, often successfully, to evade attribution of the costs of injuries
related to violence in the workplace. These include applications for cost relief brought by banks
and security companies to avoid the economic consequences of compensation benefits paid to
their employees injured during armed robberies, as well as applications filed by youth detention
centres, special schools and health care facilities, all seeking to avoid the costs of injuries
attributable to assault on their staff
327
. When costs are externalized there is no economic
incentive placed on the employer for primary, secondary or tertiary prevention.
Other policy issues of note relate to the fact that workers’ compensation is, in many North
American jurisdictions, the exclusive remedy for injuries caused at work, so that workers who
are victims of sexual harassment, for example, have been denied the right to sue harassers
and employers for damages if the injury can be construed to be a work injury under workers’
compensation law328.
2.2.4. Generally applicable legislation
Civil and criminal legislation can be mobilized in response to violence in the workplace. In
some countries, suing the perpetrator for damages or laying criminal charges against the
perpetrator are the primary responses to violence in the workplace329.
Literature from the United States, where employers can be sued by members of the public
and others for the consequences of violent behaviour of employees, documents the effect
on hiring practices. Employers fear law suits alleging “negligent hiring”, and this acts as an
incentive to filter out potentially violent employees. This has been shown to incite employers
to refrain from hiring candidates who have experienced ill mental health or who have criminal
records, a process that may have discriminatory results by systemically excluding racialized
minorities and people with disabilities from the workforce330.
It should be noted that the legislative frameworks discussed thus far, for the most part, do
not explicitly refer to “occupational violence”, and studies looking to identify legislation that
explicitly addresses “occupational violence” may overlook frameworks such as human rights
legislation or workers’ compensation law for example. With this caveat, it may, nonetheless,
be of interest to consult a global regulation analytic database that provides country-specific
portraits of regulatory interventions on occupational violence331. Spain and the United States
326 Tompa, et al. 2007.
327 Lippel and Lanctôt 2014
328 In Canada see Lippel and Demers 1998; Jacobs 2000; in the United States see Korn 1992-1993.
329 Chappell and Di Martino 2006. In Canada see Makela 2006, Lippel 2011. In Germany see Fischinger 2010. In the
United States see Yamada 2010. In Australia see Squelch and Guthrie 2010.
330 See for example Hickox 2010-2011.
331
See the results for occupational violence: https://www.global-regulation.com/analytics.php?q=occupational+violence#, con-
sulted on July 11th 2016. References to the specific legislation inventoried by the search engine are provided by the site.
45
Part 2: Designing gender sensitive legislation and policies addressing workplace violence
stand out in particular, in terms of the number of laws that mention occupational violence.
When examined in relation to the total legislative collection in a given country, Estonia,
Mexico, and Poland have over 1% of their legislation that addresses occupational violence.
Austria, Belgium and Canada have more often than others mentioned occupational violence
in their legislation in more recent years.
2.2.5. Sector-specific legislation
In light of the particularly high level of workplace violence in the healthcare sector, several
American States have adopted legislation specifically promoting violence prevention
programmes targeting healthcare workers, including the imposition of harsher sentences
for assault when the victim is a nurse
332
. Recommendations for violence prevention that
have been included in these laws address requirements for training and reporting. Studies
examining effectiveness of some of those programmes and policies encourage workplace
parties to examine not only the workplace violence hazards in their workplaces but also the
barriers to removal of hazards. One such study found that management support in the process
and giving voice to workers were key requirements for success
333
. There have been recent calls
to consider workplace violence in the health care sector as a public health issue
334
.
Studies on physical violence in the health care sectors of Jordan and Iraq noted that under-
reporting of incidents attributable to the usual factors of normalization of violence was
exacerbated by the targets’ feelings that it was useless to complain, and the authors note the
dissatisfaction of the targets with the management of violence in their workplaces, and the
frequent absence of workplace policies335.
The Canadian Criminal Code was amended as a result of the mobilization of unions of transit
workers who had, for years, denounced violence against bus drivers. Sanctions have been
increased for assault against bus drivers336.
2.3. Hazard-specific legislation
2.3.1. Addressing bullying, mobbing and psychological harassment
in the workplace
There is now a considerable body of literature on regulatory approaches to preventing bullying,
mobbing, victimization and psychological harassment at work and on providing remedies
for targets. Here we will only examine regulatory regimes explicitly addressing this form of
332 “Proposed New Laws on Violence” 2010, “California Bills Seek Greater Accountability from Healthcare Industry” 2013,
“Ohio Measure Addresses Workplace Violence” 2013, Farrell, et al. 2014.
333 Blando, et al. 2015.
334 Pompeii, et al. 2015.
335 AbuAlRub and Al Khawaldeh 2013.
336 Bill S-221 amended the Canadian Criminal Code to create a new aggravating factor for the purpose of sentencing offend-
ers convicted of assault related offences against a public transit operator who was on duty at the time of the assault. See
http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=953849, consulted on 29 February 2016.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
46
violence, although even in countries without explicit legislation, regulators and workers have
been able to mobilize general legislation such as tort law, for example.337
Article 26 (2) of the European Social Charter
338 contains a provision that promotes workers’
right to dignity which can be used to monitor States’ progress with regard to workplace
bullying, although it does not require that legislation be enacted by the Parties339.
26. With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right of all workers to protection of their
dignity at work, the Parties undertake, in consultation with employers’ and workers’ organizations:
2. to promote awareness, information and prevention of recurrent reprehensible or distinctly
negative and offensive actions directed against individual workers in the workplace or in relation to
work and to take all appropriate measures to protect workers from such conduct.
The first regulatory provisions specifically addressing bullying were adopted in Sweden
in 1993, with the enactment of the Victimization at Work Ordinance.340 Since then other
Scandinavian countries have developed regulations and guidance materials, applying various
approaches341. The Danish Labour Inspectorate has developed tools for inspecting workplaces
for psychosocial hazards that include elements to prevent bullying342, and there is some
evaluative research on inspectorates’ interventions in Scandinavia343.
France344, Belgium345 and Quebec346 all enacted legislation on moral or psychological
harassment in 2002, legislation inspired in part by the work of French psychiatrist Marie-
France Hirigoyen347. Although the Quebec legislation was in part inspired by the developments
in Europe, the nature of the legislation varies considerably. In France, penal provisions were
integrated into the Labour Code. In Belgium, the approach is very much oriented towards
prevention, with complex structures created to support the target and to try to resolve the
situation with the help of a person of confidence. Quebec legislation, the first to be enacted
in North America, is again very different, providing individual remedies for targets, who can
apply for damages either through a state-funded organization, for the non-unionized348, or
337 For the situation in Spain see Velázquez 2010; in Germany see Fischinger 2010, in Brazil see Gitahy da Paixão 2012.
338 For the full text of the European Social Charter see http://www.coe.int/en/web/turin-european-social-charter/charter-texts,
consulted on 11 March 2016.
339 Most, but not all, Member States have accepted this provision. See http://fra.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/
data-and-maps/int-obligations/esc, consulted on 11 March 2016.
340 Hoel and Einarsen 2010.
341 Hansen 2011.
342 Rasmussen, et al. 2011.
343 See for instance Hoel and Einarsen 2010, Bruhn and Frick 2011, Rasmussen, et al. 2011, Starheim and Rasmussen
2014.
344
Lerouge 2010. Penal charges against high level executives of France Télécom who allegedly failed to prevent workplace
bullying in their work reorganisation strategies illustrate that regulatory interventions can provide real incentives to factor in
the impact of an organisational restructuring strategy on the psychological and physical health of the workers: Cazi 2016.
345 Lerouge 2010.
346 Lippel 2005.
347 Hirigoyen 1998.
348 The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail is the regulator responsible for the
implementation of the legislation. See http://www.cnt.gouv.qc.ca/en/in-case-of/psychological-harassment-at-work/index.
html, consulted on 11 March 2016.
47
Part 2: Designing gender sensitive legislation and policies addressing workplace violence
through the grievance procedure of their union, for those who are unionized349. The law
stipulates that “Every employee has a right to a work environment free from psychological
harassment. Employers must take reasonable action to prevent psychological harassment
and, whenever they become aware of such behaviour, to put a stop to it.” Belgium has recently
chosen to include psychosocial hazards within the purview of its legislation on occupational
health and safety and worker wellbeing350.
In recent years, legislation specifically addressing bullying and harassment has been adopted
in a broad range of countries including Chile351, Columbia352, Australia353, and several
European countries354. Definitions of bullying for regulatory purposes may sometimes include
single incidents, as is the case in Quebec355 and Norway356, and it is clear that definitions
for legal purposes may differ from those used for research purposes357. Although China
does not have explicit regulation on bullying, there are publications in Chinese on regulatory
approaches used in other countries, targeting Chinese labour law scholars358.
2.3.2. Addressing sexual harassment in the workplace
North America Regulatory frameworks have addressed sexual harassment for decades359,
and this is the same case as Australia.360 In the European Union, the European Social
349 Cox 2010, 2015.
350 Arrêté royal du 10 avril 2014 relatif à la prevention des risques psychosociaux au travail (M.B. 28-4-2014.)
351 Caamaño Rojo 2012.
352 Porras Santanilla 2012.
353 Ballard and Easteal 2014, Stojanova 2014Nadia</author></authors></contributors><titles><title>The regulation of
workplace bullying in Victoria: is legislation required?</title><secondary-title>Labour and Industry</secondary-title></
titles><periodical><full-title>Labour and Industry</full-title></periodical><pages>146-160</pages><volume>24</
volume><number>2</number><dates><year>2014</year></dates><urls></urls></record></Cite></EndNote>. In Aus-
tralia, several commentators have questioned the adequacy of the regulatory frameworks, before and after the adoption
of the Fair Work Amendment Act 2013.
354 For an overview consult country specific reports regarding s. 26 (2) of the European Social Charter: http://hudoc.esc.coe.
int/eng#{%22ESCArticle%22:[%2226-02-163%22]}, consulted on 11 March 2016.
355 Cox 2010.
356 Hansen 2011, p. 13.
357 Lippel 2010. For example, s. 81.18 of the Quebec Labour Standards Act, L.R.Q. c. N-1.1 includes a single serious inci-
dent in the definition of psychological harassment, in order to ensure that workers targeted by an incident so serious as
to force them to immediately withdraw from the workplace are still protected by the legislation prohibiting psychological
harassment in the workplace. Regulators are familiar with the regulatory contexts in which they introduce new provisions.
Without explicit legislation on “intimidation”, the Quebec regulator felt it essential to specify this formulation, even
though the scientific definition of bullying/psychological harassment specifies that the behaviour must be repeated over
a certain period of time. This is necessary in order to ensure that scientific studies of the phenomenon use comparable
measures (Einarsen, et al. 2011), an objective that is irrelevant in a regulatory context where lawmakers seek to provide
the most appropriate regulatory tools for their specific context. See also Chan-Mok, et al. 2013
358 Li and Lippel, 2014. This is the translation of a special issue of the Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal that
included studies describing regulatory approaches to workplace bullying in nine jurisdictions. Those that explicitly ad-
dressed bullying in their labour legislation included France, Belgium, Quebec, Sweden; those that did not included
Spain, Germany, the United States, and Chile. Australia was also included, as some Australian states had enacted spe-
cific legislation while others had not. See K. Lippel, (editor of the special issue), The Law of Workplace Bullying (2010)
32 (1) Comparative Labor Law And Policy Journal 1-302.
359 See for example Friedman and Whitman 2003, Aggarwal and Gupta 2006, Cox 2014.
360 Mackay 2009.
Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
48
Charter includes provisions on sexual harassment with which Member States are supposed
to comply, although some countries, including France361, have only complied recently. Article
26, the Right to dignity in the workplace, includes a provision on sexual harassment which
provides:
With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right of all workers to protection of their dignity
at work, the Parties undertake, in consultation with employers’ and workers’ organisations:
1. to promote awareness, information and prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace or in
relation to work and to take all appropriate measures to protect workers from such conduct.
The Council of Europe has reporting requirements that track regulatory compliance with
provisions of the Charter so that developments in all member states are documented362.
Regulatory provisions governing sexual harassment were adopted in Japan in the late 1990s.
The English term used as the concept was perceived as alien to Japanese culture. Although
provisions have existed since 1997 that require employers to prevent sexual harassment,
critics suggest they are “toothless”. One study suggests that “because the only enforcement
mechanism is administrative guidance, the effectiveness of the law largely depends on the
integrity of the private firms.”363
An overview of the regulatory situation in India describes both internal regulatory instruments,
assented to by the President in 2013, and international law that could be mobilized in support
of targets of sexual harassment in the workplace364. In Australia there have been initiatives
to require employers to eliminate sexual harassment from the workplace365.
Although sexual harassment legislation is widespread, evaluations of the effectiveness of that
legislation are relatively scarce. A Mexican study has evaluated the scope and limitations
of using criminal legislation to address sexual harassment in that country366. Studies in
Chile367, Peru368 and Uruguay369 have examined the challenges faced by targets of sexual
harassment who try to mobilize regulatory protections. For example, Lidia Casas Becerra370,
in her doctoral thesis on uptake of sexual harassment legislative protections in Chile, provides
excellent examples of the types of obstacles to effective implementation of sexual harassment
legislation in the workplace that exist in the Chilean context. First, she showed that women
workers themselves were hesitant to label unwanted sexual attention as sexual harassment,
and therefore were unlikely to complain or to require the attention of labour inspectors.
Workplaces in Chile are required to address sexual harassment in internal regulations,
361 Lerouge and Hébert 2013.
362 Progress on specific provisions can be viewed at http://hudoc.esc.coe.int/eng#. See s. 26 (1) for sexual harassment.
363 Huen 2011 p. 826.
364 Ather 2013.
365 Mackay 2009.
366 Palomino 2012.
367 Casas Becerra 2012, Casas Becerra 2016.
368 Fernández Revoredo 2012.
369 Mangarelli 2012.
370 Casas Becerra, 2016.
49
Part 2: Designing gender sensitive legislation and policies addressing workplace violence
but many participants in her study were unaware of the existence of such rules. Finally,
when workers did try to exercise their rights, decision makers were often hesitant to punish
perpetrators of sexual harassment as the labour courts had a long tradition of protecting job
security, job security that was questioned when sexual harassment complaints were filed.
In the majority of cases studied, the sanctioned perpetrator was the complainant, and the
success rates of perpetrators contesting the sanction imposed by the employer was actually
higher than the success rate of targets of sexual harassment who had filed complaints. These
are only a few examples of the obstacles she identified.
A recent report from Bangalore examines the need for more effective implementation of sexual
harassment legislation and provides a detailed inventory of challenges in its implementation
as well as making nine concrete recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the law.
Recommendations target both state officials and workplace parties, and include an active
role for non-governmental organizations in supporting women workers who are targets of
occupational violence371.
An unpublished report of the ILO highlights strategies that labour inspectors may use when
investigating sexual harassment in the workplace, particularly within the EU. The report notes
that372:
Procedures on sexual harassment complaints have also been developed by a number of instruments
including the Recommendation of the European Commission 92/131/EEC of 27 November 1991
on the protection of the dignity of women and men at work, which foresees the use of internal
procedures regarding allegations of sexual harassment. The Recommendation outlines that: sexual
harassment is unacceptable, and as it is often a function of women’s status in the employment
hierarchy, policies to deal with sexual harassment are likely to be most effective where they are
linked to a broader policy to promote equal opportunities and to improve the position of women.
The Recommendation also suggests, as a first step in showing senior management’s concern and
their commitment to dealing with the problem of sexual harassment, “employers should issue a
policy statement which expressly states that all employees have a right to be treated with dignity,
that sexual harassment at work will not be permitted or condoned and that employees have a right
to complain about it should it occur.”
The Recommendation outlines the need for training for managers and supervisors with an aim to
identifying the factors which contribute to a working environment free of sexual harassment and to
“familiarize participants with their responsibilities under the employer’s policy and any problems they
are likely to encounter.” If sexual harassment has occurred, the Recommendation suggest that both
informal and formal methods of resolving problems should be available and that employees should be
advised that, if possible, they should attempt to resolve the problem informally in the first instance. If
the conduct continues or if i