Social partner guidance on harassment and violence at work

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EU social partner agreement

UK joint guidance on implementation

November 2009

The TUC has teamed up with the CBI and PPE (public sector employers) to launch joint guidance on preventing workplace harassment and violence, implementing an EU social partners agreement signed in 2007. The joint guidance is also endorsed by ACAS, BIS and the HSE.

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The guidance sets out the legal obligations of employers but also encourages employers and unions to agree how to tackle the problems of harassment of all types, as well as third-party violence against workers. The EU social partner agreement also included third-party violence, despite employer concerns, but the UK guidance is clear that this is a major issue - not least because, sadly, Britain has one of the worst records in Europe. Latest figures suggest that four fatalities a year - and nearly three major injuries a day - are caused by violence at work.

Launching the guidance with Employment Minister Lord Young, TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O'Grady said:

'What this guidance adds is social dialogue - the idea that employers and unions can work together to tackle these threats. Most large employers, I suspect, already have policies on violence and harassment, depending on their sector. Many of them will, no doubt, have discussed those policies with safety reps and with unions. But too few, from our research, have made formal agreements with unions about the issue, and that is what this guidance, and the social dialogue approach, seeks to promote.'

She also drew attention to the issue of sexual harassment:

'I am pleased that this agreement tackles harassment in all its forms. Nearly thirty years ago I was involved in supporting a grassroots campaign called Women Against Sexual Harassment. This was a time when in some quarters the very term sexual harassment - never mind the actual experience - was still considered a joke. We have made some progress since those days but none of us here would pretend that naming the problem has made it disappear.'

Unions are encouraged to use the guidance to reach agreements with employers.

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