New Code Of Conduct For Workplace Harassment: An End To Eye-rolling
A new Code of Conduct has replaced existing regulations on workplace harassment. It applies to conduct both vertically between employees and their superiors and between employees themselves at a horizontal level.
“This Code identifies the steps employers must take to eliminate harassment, including the development and implementation of policies that create workplaces which are free from harassment, in which employers and employees respect each other’s dignity, privacy, and their rights to equality.”
– said the Department of Employment
This Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace affords a vast scope of behaviour that could be deemed as “harassment,” which at its root is “unwanted conduct which impairs dignity.”
The ambit is so inclusive that, according to Section 4.7.9, even passive-aggressive or covert actions such as gossip, sarcasm, eye-rolling, gestures, facial expressions, and other such conduct can be considered harassment.
Even something seemingly insignificant or mildly irritating can become a cause for disciplinary action against an employee or action against an employer. However, it is worth mentioning that the Code recognizes repeated negative conduct as amounting to harassing another. Thus, the occasional eye-roll or exasperated sigh at another will not invoke the remedies of the Code. Yet, a pattern of such behaviour may be cause for action being taken against the perpetrator.
It is stipulated that harassment is assessed objectively from the perspective of the person alleging such. Cognizance is also taken regarding the context and circumstances, the impact of the conduct on the complainant, and the respective positions of the involved parties.
Both employers and employees should pay attention to their workplace conduct to avoid falling foul of the Code’s provisions, which, as mentioned, are extensive.