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Harassment in the office: It is much more damaging to victims than you think

According to UN data, work harassment increased due to Covid-19. Picture: Pixabay.com

According to UN data, work harassment increased due to Covid-19. Picture: Pixabay.com

Published May 6, 2022

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Durban - There are always hierarchies in the workplace. These work to distribute work and responsibilities.

However, what happens when a superior crosses the line of guiding and giving constructive criticism to belittling and bullying those under them?

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According to a report from the United Nations in 2021, instead of slowing down, Covid-19 only worsened violence and harassment in the workplace.

This harassment and violence was particularly against women and other vulnerable groups.

The chief executive of the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Response Fund1, Lindi Dlamini, said improving the lives of women and children will be ensuring that everyone has the right to a world of work that is free from gender-based violence.

Such harassment can lead to physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm, and creates a hostile work environment.

“The pain, and psychological harm caused by harassment and violence on survivors and their families count as the most immediate and visceral of the damage.

“But additional costs like paid expenses, or real money spent on the provision of services, facilities, or expenses incurred by the survivor or the household only add to the problem,” said Dlamini.

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On March 18, 2022, the new Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace became effective in South Africa.

Under the Code, harassment is accounted for when it occurs within the physical workplace, virtual work, trips, training or social activities, job-related communications, and more.

The Director of Employment Law at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr’s, Fiona Leppan, said, the Code introduced concepts of harassment that include psychological, cyber, passive aggressive harassment, as well as forms of career sabotage as grounds for disciplinary action.

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“Employers need to be taking proactive steps to make their work environments safe and inclusive and to stay out of legal hot water,” said Leppan.

Dlamini said we should all join forces to eradicate the major hindrance to achieving gender equity in South Africa and ending the ongoing harassment and violence being committed against women, children, the elderly, disabled persons and LGBTQIA+ people.

IOL Wealth

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