Gender-based violence, sexual and gender-based harassment

The second article of the Act on the Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men no. 10/2008 (Gender Equality Act) provides explanations and definitions which are among the following:

Gender-based harassment: Conduct connected with the sex of the person affected by it, is unwelcome to the person in question and is intended to impair the self-respect of the person in question and create a situation that is threatening, hostile, degrading, humiliating or insulting for the person in question, or which has this effect.  

Sexual harassment: Any type of sexual behaviour which is unwelcome to the person affected by it and is intended to impair the self-respect of the person concerned, or which has this effect, particularly when the behaviour results in a threatening, hostile, degrading, humiliating or insulting situation. The behaviour may be verbal, non-verbal and/or physical.

Gender-based violence: Violence based on gender which results in, or could result in, physical, sexual or psychological injury or suffering on the part of the victim; also the threat of such and coercion or arbitrary deprivation of freedom, both in private life and in a public venue

Article 22 discusses in more detail the rights of people exposed to harassment. But it states that “employers and officers of organizations and non-governmental organizations must take special measures listed in its gender equality action plan to prevent staff, trainees and clients from being subjected to gender-based violence, gender-based harassment or sexual harassment at the workplace, organization, social work or in schools.”

If a supervisor/boss is accused of alleged gender-based violence, alleged gender-based harassment or alleged sexual harassment, he or she will be ineligible to make decisions regarding the applicant's working conditions during the proceedings, and the next officer shall then make such decisions.

 Article 18 in the Gender Equality Act nr. 10/2008 states that a gender equality action plan must provide for the rights specified in 19-22. article. It focuses on wage equality, job vacancies, vocational training, continuing education and lifelong learning, the coordination of family and business life, and how employers and managers should prevent gender-based harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace.

According to a Regulation on Measures Against Bullying, Sexual harassment, Gender-based harassment and Violence at work 1009/2015, the employer “should act as soon as possible when he/she receives a complaint or indication of bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or violence in the workplace. And also in cases where he/she notices behavior or circumstances in the workplace that are likely to lead to such behavior and are not being acted up on.” Employers are obliged to make a” written plan of safety and health at the workplace, cf. II. chapter in order to reduce the risk of situations that are likely to lead to bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or violence in the workplace.”

Further information on plans for safety and health as well as risk assessments that are the basis of the workplace action plans can be found on the website of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.