Employers, legislators and law enforcement bodies are not doing enough to tackle violence and harassment at work, a survey of European women trade union leaders has found.
Carried out January-February 2021, the ETUC survey of women union leaders in 21 European countries found that only
- 16% say that employers have updated their policies to address online harassment associated with telework;
- 23% thought that employers did enough to tackle violence and harassment at work, including online;
- 16% think their national laws are strong enough to tackle violence and harassment at work, including online;
- 17% believe their country’s laws to tackle violence and harassment at work, including online, are adequately enforced.
A majority of respondents indicated they were concerned or even very concerned about violence and harassment at work, online and offline.
The ETUC and many other national and international trade unions are using International Women’s Day to reinforce the need for all Governments to ratify ILO Convention 190, which will come into force this year. It is the first international labour standard to address violence and harassment at work. Governments and employers who are members of the ILO agreed the Convention and committed to improve laws, services and procedures for preventing and tackling violence and harassment.
ETUC Deputy General Secretary Esther Lynch said:
“Violence and harassment at work is an unacceptable reality for many women. It’s clear employer policies and prevention methods have not kept up with the COVID realities."
“The pandemic has created additional threats for women at work whether it’s violence from customers and clients who refuse to comply with COVID safety rules, new forms of online sexual harassment or the increase in domestic violence when working from home.”
“It’s a hidden crisis that women workers are frightened to speak out about because everyone now fears for their job.”
“We want to build a ‘better normal’, post-COVID. Workplaces free from violence and harassment should be part of that equation.”
“Governments have a duty to urgently ratify ILO convention 190 that should give new protections to women wherever they work, including at home.”
The ETUC wants to see more employers work with trade unions to update their policies to take account of the new COVID realities and prevent violence and harassment at work.
For more on ILO Convention 190, see