A Global First Survey: Violence and Harassment at Work and Bermuda’s Response

Bullying and harassment in the workplace remain a problem and the Bermuda Government is committed to ensuring that there are reduced incidents.

Every individual should feel that relevant safeguards are in place to protect them from being violated at their place of employment and employers should be accountable to ensure that this is the case.

The International Labour Organization, in conjunction with Lloyd’s Register Foundation and Gallup, recently published its first survey on violence and harassment in the world of work since it adopted Convention 190, the Violence and Harassment Convention and its accompanying Recommendation.

The report entitled, Experiences of violence and harassment at work: A global first survey (the “Survey”), is a compilation of findings from interviews conducted in 2021 with 74,364 employees aged 15 years and above from approximately 121 countries.

The Survey takes into consideration the three main forms of violence and harassment at work: physical, psychological and sexual violence and harassment. The Survey provides an overview of the prevalence of these acts in the workplace, identifies key factors associated with a higher risk of violence and harassment and people’s willingness and ability to disclose such occurrences.

The Survey points out that in 2021, 743 million (23%) employed persons worldwide experienced a form of violence and harassment at work, and for 79% of these persons, the last occurrence was within the last five years.

While this Survey is the first to be conducted in an attempt to measure the prevalence of violence and harassment at work, it highlights that worldwide this is a recurrent problem with most instances of violence and harassment taking place recently, i.e. within the last five years.

In 2021, as a prevention mechanism, the Employment Act 2000 was amended to provide definitions of bullying and sexual harassment and to ensure all employers institute a policy against bullying and sexual harassment in accordance with Convention 190.

Not having a policy in place or not following the policy is now a contravention of the Employment Act 2000, should an instance of bullying or sexual harassment be reported.

The Employment Act 2000 was further amended to allow for protected disclosures to be made to the Labour Relations Sections making it easier for victims to safely make reports.

The Ministry of Economy and Labour remains steadfast in its aim to ensure that all employees are allowed to work in environments free of bullying and sexual harassment.

Please contact the Human Right Commission or the Labour Relations Section if you have any questions or if you or someone you know is being bullied or sexually harassed at work.

Additionally, persons may make a report via the Employment Violations Tip Line at www.bermudajobboard.bm/evtl.

For questions regarding the bullying and sexual harassment policy, please contact the Labour Relations Section at 23 Parliament Street, Hamilton HM 12 on 297 7716 or via email at sstephens@gov.bm.

The Ministry of Economy and Labour has published a Bullying and Sexual Harassment Policy Statement with corresponding templates for employers to adopt, which can be found at www.gov.bm/sites/default/files/Bullying-Sexual-Harassment-Policy-Statement.pdf.

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