Workplace systems need to be put in order to prevent harassment
Even though the law has prohibited sexual harassment at workplaces for a long time now, it still happens. There are guidelines at workplaces too.
”It’s just a question of following them”, says PAM’s health and safety expert Seija Virta.
Just over a week ago, on International Women’s Day, workplace managers received a high-profile letter signed by ministers Jari Lindström, Pirkko Mattila and Annika Saarikko and by the leaders of all the labour market organisations. The letter pointed out that sexual harassment cannot be tolerated at workplaces in any form. It is also prohibited by law.
The letter called on workplaces to check whether practices for preventing harassment and for dealing with it if it occurs are up to standard and whether everyone is aware of them. To make things easier, Working Life 2020 has published a guide entitled “Harassment-free Workplace”.
Support for the view that practices need updating comes from the panel of shop stewards put together by SAK in February. Fifty-four per cent of the shop stewards reported that guidelines exist. The situation in service sectors, however, shows that guidelines alone are insufficient.
Thirteen per cent of respondents to the panel reported occurrences of sexual harassment at the workplace over the last 12 months. It was most common in service sectors (19%). For the most part, service sectors also have guidelines (57%) for tackling harassment. Where harassment has occurred, fewer service sector shop stewards than in other sectors (46%) feel that it has been dealt with appropriately. Of all shop stewards, 49% judged actions to be appropriate.
“Fortunately, the shop stewards’ panel indicates that the differences between sectors are not that big. Nonetheless it is worrying that in service sectors, where harassment has come to the notice of shop stewards the most, the procedures for dealing with it are the weakest”, says PAM’s health and safety expert Seija Virta.
She says that the new guide and the letter sent to workplaces are excellent initiatives.
“But complying with them is what is essential. Clearly PAM will be displaying any new guidelines at all trainings sessions and events in future”, Virta says.
You can download the Harassment-free Workplace guide here in Finnish Häirinnästä vapaa työpaikka.