Treaty to prevent violence and harassment comes into force in March 2023

Employers will have a new duty to prevent violence and harassment in the workplace; particularly where employees deal with members of the public.

The UK has become the eleventh country to ratify the International Labour Organization’s Violence and Harassment Convention which, when it comes into force next year, will create a duty for employers to protect employees from all forms of harassment, including from third parties such as customers or clients.

The treaty is designed to protect employees “irrespective of their contractual status”, meaning it will protect interns, job applicants, apprentices, and those whose employment has been terminated. It will also apply in all areas of work, including on work trips, in break room facilities, virtual meetings, and during commuting.

Thérèse Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions, said the UK already had “some of the strongest laws in the world to protect employees”, and that she hoped other countries would follow suit in ratifying the treaty.

The treaty will come into force in the UK on 7th March 2023 and employers who have employees in a position where they deal with members of the public should consider how they can proactively anticipate and address issues such as warning signs relating to the fact that inappropriate behaviour towards employees will not be tolerated.

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