A Draft Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work was published for comment on the 20th of August 2020. Four forms of violence and harassment in the workplace are enumerated, namely: sexual violence and harassment; racial, ethnic, or social origin violence and harassment; workplace bullying; and protected disclosures. This code creates a broader understanding of the various kinds of violence and harassment which may be experienced in the workplace and what employers must do when dealing herewith.
Employers, therefore, have to consider their existing common law obligation of providing a safe work environment. Employers also have to give effect to their statutory obligation, in terms of the Employment Equity Act, to take action towards preventing workplace violence and harassment.
The enforcement of workplace policies is a way of doing this by setting out that violence and harassment can constitute assault or unfair discrimination and further, that such may be considered as serious misconduct which an employee may face dismissal for.
While this is still a “Draft Code”, it emphasises the ever-expanding principles of workplace safety and security and the widening definitions of what constitutes “violence” or “harassment” in working environments.