Standard-setting process leading to an International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention against gender-based violence at work

06 Mar 2018


Dorothée David

In 2015, the ILO announced the beginning of a standard-setting process focusing on “violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work”, including gender-based violence. A meeting of experts, including representatives from governments, employers and employees, took place in 2016, resulting in a Report by the International Labour Office on violence against men and women at work, which was published in 2017. On the basis of this Report, in June 2018 the International Labour Conference will start work on putting together an ILO Convention against gender-based violence in the workplace.

There is currently no internationally recognised law covering the many different forms of gender-based violence in the workplace. An ILO Convention, which is legally binding for countries that ratify it, would form the foundations of a coherent international approach to combating violence and harassment in the world of work, with a view to improving health and safety in the workplace, as well as professional relationships. To facilitate its implementation, the ILO may also adopt a Recommendation, which is not legally binding, designed to give governments guidelines for applying the international convention in their national legislation. Such norms could give employers valuable help, including in particular by clarifying practical measures that can be taken to prevent and manage situations effectively involving violence and harassment against men and women working in their companies, and by establishing a transparent legal framework for everyone’s responsibilities in this area.

In Luxembourg, sexual harassment in the workplace is not covered by a specific criminal offence, and remains very difficult to assess. The Labour Code specifies the elements that constitute sexual harassment, and imposes a general prohibition on any sexual harassment at work, making it the employer’s responsibility to prevent or make stop immediately any sexual harassment brought to its attention. As for psychological harassment, according to the latest statistics published by Mobbing asbl for 2015, 67% of those monitored by Mobbing asbl are women.

To find out more about the work of the ILO, including in particular the observations and principles on which the discussions will be based to draw up a Convention against gender-based violence at work, you can see the final Report, “Ending violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work” by clicking here.