Ban on harassment in the workplace
Harassment is defined as a situation where a person becomes the victim of unwanted negative actions, omissions or statements which have the intention or effect of being abusive, intimidating, hostile, degrading or humiliating.
This could for example include unwanted sexual attention, bullying, exclusion or hurtful joking and teasing. Harassment can occur either as individual incidents or repeatedly. In the case of a single incident, the incident must be of a certain severity in order for it to be covered by the definition of harassment. If the negative and abusive statements or actions occur systematically and are repeated over time, it is often referred to as 'bullying', which is a form of harassment.
Harassment based on gender, ethnicity, religion, life stance, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and age is banned according to the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act.
Harassment due to political affiliation and membership in trade unions are banned according to the Working Environment Act.
Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual attention whose intention or effect is to be abusive, intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or annoying. Sexual harassment can range from sexual comments about a person's body or appearance, to the simulation of sexual acts, groping, pawing and touching to assault. The viewing of images and videos with sexual content is also included.
Duty to prevent and stop harassment
Employers are required to organise and lead the work so that none of their employees become the victim of harassment. However, if harassment does take place, the employer is responsible for following up the incident retrospectively.
Employers and managers in businesses are obliged to prevent and strive to stop harassment. Breaches of the duty to prevent harassment are enforced by the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Tribunal. The Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud can provide advice and guidance.
How to prevent harassment
Prevention means taking action to prevent harassment from occurring. This could involve campaigns aimed at changing attitudes or the preparation of guidelines. Other measures could include an internal complaints or control system for reporting cases of harassment. The responsible party should make it clear that harassment is unacceptable and explain the potential consequences for the individual concerned and the working environment. The ombudsman can provide advice and guidance concerning the ban on harassment. Anyone who is guilty of harassment may also be held accountable under the ban on reckless conduct in accordance with the Penal Code.
Six simple measures to prevent and deal with harassment and sexual harassment:
- In cooperation with employees, assess the risks that exist at your workplace and implement preventive measures
- Draw up rules of conduct
- Establish appropriate procedures for reporting cases of sexual harassment and general harassment and how incidents should be managed, and disseminate information concerning these procedures.
- Breaches of procedures and policies must lead to consequences for the perpetrator
- The manager's responsibility to prevent and manage cases of sexual harassment must be clear
- Discuss sexual harassment and general harassment at the workplace