Let’s Work Together:Take action against sexual harassment
The Administration of Occupational Safety and Health announces a call to action campaign against sexual harassment in the workplace under the title Let’s Work Together (#TökumHöndumSaman). New educational materials and tools have been developed with the aim of supporting workplaces in Iceland in preventing and responding to sexual harassment in the work environment.
Call to Action - Tools
Tools which are intended to support both managers and employees in working together to create a healthy work environment and prevent sexual harassment are now available on the website. Informational videos have been made to support them along with educational material for, on the one hand employers and on the other hand employees.
Workplaces in Iceland are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the material and send a clear message that sexual harassment is not tolerated. Likewise, a message stating that action will be taken if necessary.
The tools are:
A new TV commercial
Below you can see a new TV commercial designed to raise the awareness of the public and workplace managers about the need for action and the tools available to respond to sexual harassment.
- Let’s Work Together
What is sexual harassment in the workplace?
Sexual harassment is inappropriate behavior, touching and language of a sexual nature that has a negative impact on the person who is exposed to it. It can also have a negative impact on productivity, performance and workplace reputation. It is therefore important that employers create a working environment that does not allow such behavior and deals with issues quickly when they arise to prevent them from causing damage to health.
Sexual harassment is defined as any sexual behavior that is unwelcome to the person subjected to it and has the purpose or effect of offending the person’s dignity, especially when the behavior leads to threatening, hostile, degrading, humiliating or insulting circumstances.
Sexual harassment can manifest itself in various ways and can be both verbal, symbolic and physical.
- Examples of verbal behavior: Ambiguous comments or jokes with sexual undertones.
- Examples of symbolic behavior: Unwelcome messages and images with sexual undertones.
- Examples of physical behavior: Inappropriate and unwelcome physical contact, cornering or grabbing a person.
It is good to keep in mind that sexual harassment can take place outside the walls of the workplace and after normal working hours. It can take place at the hands of colleagues or external parties, for example an external service user that the employee has to deal with outside or inside the traditional workplace.
Sexual harassment can also take place on social media, by colleagues or by external parties, for example a service user or supplier. It can also take place at work-related events such as courses, conferences and work-related social activities.
Videos about sexual harassment
Below are educational videos for employers, managers and employees about sexual harassment, manifestations, consequences and responses if such issues arise in the work environment.
What is sexual harassment in the workplace?
- This video discusses what sexual harassment is and how it can manifest itself in behavior and language in the workplace.
Bullying, harassment and violence: What is the resonse at your workplace?
- This video discusses ways to prevent bullying, harassment and violence, and how to respond according to the Health and Safety Plan should such issues arise.
Content for employers
One of the key responsibilities of an employer is to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of employees by preventing risks from occurring in the work environment and causing damage to health. In the Health and Safety Plan you can find an overview of the main risk factors in the work environment and the actions to prevent them from happening.
Sexual harassment is one of the risk factors that can have a negative impact on the safety, health and wellbeing of employees. Here you can find information intended for employers and managers on how to prevent sexual harassment in the work environment.
The responsibility of employers when it comes to sexual harassment in the work environment
Sexual harassment is a risk factor that can have a negative impact on the wellbeing of employees, so it is important that the employer creates a work environment that does not permit such behavior and intervenes quickly when issues arise according to the Health and Safety Plan.
- Assess risk factors in the work environment in a targeted manner, which includes, among other things, identifying situations and behaviors that can increase the likelihood of sexual harassment. In this context, the circumstances of people who work alone and at irregular hours must be considered in particular.
- React to situations and behaviors identified in the risk assessment, with actions and prevention measures that can reduce the likelihood of sexual harassment occurring. Actions must be prioritized according to the severity of the situation in question.
- Make it clear to the employees that bullying, harassment and violence are behaviors that are not tolerated in the work environment. It is good to provide clear examples of different manifestations of sexual harassment.
- Account for workplace reactions to the issues that arise. Among other things, employees must be informed of who they can turn to to share their experiences or complain about inappropriate behavior. The employer must also inform the employees about the process which takes over following a complaint.
It is important that the employer familiarize themselves with the content of the Regulation on Actions Against Bullying, Sexual Harassment, Gender-Based Harassment and Violence in the Workplace.
Information about risk factors and how the employer intends to respond to and prevent sexual harassment in the work environment must be included in a written Health and Safety Plan that must be in place at every workplace.
What is a Health and Safety Plan?
A Health and Safety Plan should provide a good overview of risk factors in the work environment, actions to prevent them from occuring, and response to them at the workplace. The main goal is to prevent accidents and health damage to employees and respond quickly to unsafe situations to minimise their impact and prevent them from happening again.
Risk assessment: overview of risks in the work environment. Risks are screened, assessed and then prioritized by severity.
Health Protection Plan: preventive measures to prevent the risks from materializing. The plan is based on the result of a risk assessment.
Response to EKKO: actions to prevent bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and violence in the work environment. Actions to be taken in the event of a complaint about these issues must also be stated. Among other things, it is good to mention who the employees can turn to to raise concerns or complain about inappropriate communication and behavior.
Flowchart – case process
The purpose of the flowchart is to support managers when issues related to bullying, harassment and violence arise – from the time a notification is received until the matter is considered closed.
Actions in the flowchart are in accordance with the requirements made when resolving such cases in the Regulation on Actions Against Bullying, Sexual Harassment, Gender-Based Harassment and Violence. Therefore, only certain basic actions are involved.
Clicking on the boxes below will open up more information.
The flowchart comes with a checklist which is good to take into account to ensure a good procedure.
- Support materials for the preparation of a safety and health plan for communication in the workplace
Content for employees
Here you can find information intended for employees when it comes to sexual harassment in the work environment.
What is the responsibility of the employees?
Employees are responsible for their own behavior in the work environment. Under no circumstances should you bully, sexually harass, discriminate on the basis of gender or use violence. It is also not okay to ignore such behavior in others in the work environment. Employees can access information on prevention and responses in the workplace Health and Safety Plan, which the employer must have accessible to everyone in the workplace.
Employees must notify the employer if they witness or believe they have been the victim of bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or violence in the workplace. The employer must always act in accordance with the workplace Health and Safety Plan to eliminate the conditions complained of. It is therefore important that employees familiarize themselves with the plan and know where it can be accessed.
- Their responsibilities and duties when it comes to behavior and communication in the work environment
- Prevention measures and response to sexual harassment in the workplace
- Who the employees can turn to if they want to have a conversation or share their experience of difficult communication. Some workplaces choose to offer such conversations to provide employees who are not ready to make a complaint, support and reflection on an experience they are unsure about.
- Who employees can contact to file a complaint or submit a tip about sexual harassment.
What should employees do if they experience or witness sexual harassment in the work environment?
Employees who experience or witness sexual harassment in the work environment must act by reporting it. The workplace Health and Safety Plan should include useful information for employees on prevention and response to sexual harassment. Among other things, it should state whom to turn to in order to report, what reactions can be expected at the workplace and what support is available. It is important that employees familiarize themselves with the plan and know where it can be accessed.
It is good to keep in mind that the employer must show prudence and sensitivity with respect and the privacy of the employees involved in all their actions.
Workplaces can advise employees on how they can choose to respond to inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment in the workplace. Such information can, among other things, appear in the workplace’s Health and Safety Plan.
When people feel confident enough, they can set boundaries with colleagues and ask them to stop behavior that they find inappropriate or uncomfortable. Sometimes people don’t realize the impact of their behavior and feedback can give them an opportunity to reconsider and even change it.
Some workplaces invite employees to have a conversation and air out experiences and concerns about communication. Information about who staff can contact to have such conversations should be included in the workplace’s Health and Safety Plan. In such conversations, employees can, among other things, receive reflection and support, as well as information about possible next steps. Such conversations can support employees who are unsure of what to do and want to air their experience before proceeding further. Conversation, airing or other general responses of the employer do not prevent employees from being able to submit a complaint, which will be submitted to the channel Regulation on Actions Against Bullying, Sexual Harassment, Gender-Based Harassment and Violence assumes.
In the workplace Health and Safety Plan, employees should find information about whom they can turn to to lodge a complaint or submit a tip. It is important that employees familiarize themselves with the process that follows and what to expect. It is good for employees to keep in mind that in order to be able to put the case into the channel that the aforementioned regulation requires, they must be prepared to explain their case in more detail. In addition, the relevant employees, including the alleged perpetrator, must be given access to all information and data in the case, taking into account the Data Protection Act and the processing of personal information.
Do you want to submit a suggestion regarding the work environment, safety or health of the employees at the workplace?
Test your knowledge - Take the quiz!
If you hear a co-worker tell a joke with sexual undertone, you shouldn't respond, because they aren't talking directly to you?