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Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act No. 55 of 1998)

Code of Good Practice

Integration of Employment Equity into Human Resource Policies and Practices

Part B : During Employment

19. Harassment


19.1 SCOPE


This section deals with the elimination of harassment in the workplace. It provides a framework for facilitating and promoting the development and implementation of policies and practices that result in workplaces free of harassment where employers, employees and associated parties19 put a premium on one another's integrity and dignity. This in turn builds a workforce that respects one another's privacy and the right to equity and equality in the workplace.




19.2.1 Section 6 of the Act and other related legislation recognize that harassment in the workplace, whether direct or indirect, is a form of unfair discrimination and is prohibited on one or a combination of the following grounds:


19.2.2 Harassment is unwanted or unsolicited attention based on one or more of the prohibited grounds. It involves conduct that is unwanted by the person to whom it is directed and who experiences the negative consequences of that conduct. The conduct can be physical, verbal or non-verbal. It affects the dignity of the affected person or creates a hostile working environment. It often contains an element of coercion or abuse of power by the harasser.





19.3.1 Every employer is under obligation in terms of the Act to take steps to prevent workplace harassment. This includes ensuring that a clear rule prohibiting harassment and other forms of unfair discrimination that exits in the workplace, and that all employees understand it. This should be incorporated in a formal written policy like a code of conduct with an appropriate dispute resolution procedure that is communicated throughout the workplace and displayed in prominent places.


19.3.2 The policy should make it clear that harassment is a form of unfair discrimination, and will be regarded by the employer as a serious form of misconduct, which will be subjected to disciplinary action and may result in dismissal.


19.3.3 On an incremental scale of "minor", "serious" and "very serious", harassment is a very serious offence. The disciplinary code of an employer should provide for very serious offences like harassment by placing a waiver on all warning procedures, and moving directly to a disciplinary enquiry that could be followed by a hearing.




19.4.1 Recruitment & Selection - Applicants for a job are normally most vulnerable to harassment in exchange for special favours. Therefore special attention should be placed on behaviour that is likely to be interpreted as harassment.


19.4.2 Promotion & Transfer - Mechanisms should be put in place to prevent 'welcome' or 'unwelcome' harassment that could be seen as influencing promotion and transfer decisions.


19.4.3 Discipline, Grievance & Dispute Resolution - Appropriate policies and procedures, which promote appropriate behaviour and serves as a guard against harassment, should be developed and implemented by employers.



19 Associated parties may include suppliers and contractors. Race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language and birth.