08 May 2018

Sexual harassment report reveals differing approaches globally

One in four women and one in six men have been sexually harassed during the course of their employment in Australia.

According to the latest report from employment law alliance Innagard, Italy also has a high level of sexual harassment with 1,224,000 women (8.5 per cent of workers) reportedly suffering harassment or being blackmailed in the workplace. The Innangard report focuses on the issues, implications, recent developments and consequences surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace in key jurisdictions across Europe, Australia and China and, according to founder member Clare Murray of CM Murray, different countries have a range of approaches.

Sexual harassment globally

The report found that in France, the penal code qualifies sexual harassment as sexual violence and provides that no employee can be penalised or dismissed for having submitted or having refused to submit to an act of harassment.  In China, the employer is responsible for civil compensation in scenarios where the employer is at fault, where the employee suffers physical, and/or mental and reputational damage.

Other findings were:     

In Germany, in cases of physical harassment, the harasser may face criminal prosecutions, including a fine or up to five years' imprisonment.  

In Ireland, unwanted conduct includes spoken words, gestures or the production of written words, pictures and other material, offensive facial expressions, unwelcome and offensive calendars, screensavers, emails and other offensive material.

In the Netherlands, sickness related absences caused by unwanted behaviour, including sexual harassment, have cost Dutch employers around €7 billion in total.

In Portugal, harassment provisions apply irrespective of the job, position or sex of the harasser or the victim.

In Spain, the harasser may face up to 1 year of imprisonment or a fine.

In Switzerland, the harasser can be fined an amount up to €8,500.