News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – In 2019, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted Convention No. 190, the Violence and Harassment Convention and its accompanying Recommendation (No.206), recognizing the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment. In 2022, the ILO strengthened their commitment to combat violence and harassment in the workplace by amending the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work to include “a safe and healthy working environment” as a fundamental principle and right at work, which is one of the strategies to address violence and harassment in the world of work.

The ILO published a research report in January 2024 entitled Preventing and Addressing Violence and Harassment in the World of Work through Occupational Safety and Health Measures (the Report), specifically designed to “respond to the needfor a better understanding of the role of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) frameworks in creating working conditions free from violence and harassment”. The Report seeks to clarify whether OSH regulatory frameworks can help prevent violence and harassment in the workplace and the type of regulations required to achieve this. The Report also highlights regional efforts to combat violence and harassment in the workplace through OSH’s legal and practical structures. Despite OSH frameworks representing one of the most direct entry points for preventing violence and harassment at work, the Report found that countries differ considerably in their approaches to tackling violence and harassment through OSH.

On 23 January 2024, the Acting Director for the Department of Labour attended the ILO Conference on Preventing and Addressing Violence and Harassment in the World of Work through Occupational Safety and Health (virtually). The Conference aimed to discuss the findings of the Report, which examines how applying the OSH framework mitigates workplace violence and harassment. The Conference featured a global report presentation, discussions by expert panels, and collaborative sessions with government representatives, social partners, and academics. The Conference posed as a platform for advancing understanding and strategies to combat workplace violence and harassment while shaping the future of workplace safety and health standards internationally.

For Bermuda, the Ministry of Economy and Labour determined that our local employment legislation was a more suitable avenue than OSH. In June 2021, measures were implemented into the Employment Act 2000 to prevent and combat violence and harassment. As a prevention mechanism, the Employment Act 2000 was amended to provide definitions of bullying and sexual harassment and to ensure all employers institute a policy against bullying and sexual harassment in accordance with Convention No. 190. Not having a policy in place or not following the policy should an instance of bullying or sexual harassment be reported contravenes that legislation. Additionally, the legislation was amended to allow for protected disclosures to be made to the Department of Labour, making it easier for victims to safely make reports.

If you have any questions or if someone you know is being bullied or sexually harassed at work, contact the Human Rights Commission or the Department of Labour on 297 7716 or via email at departmentoflabour@gov.bm. Additionally, persons may make a report via the Employment Violations Tip Line at www.bermudajobboard.bm/evtl.  

The Ministry of Economy and Labour has published a Bullying and Sexual Harassment Policy Statement with corresponding templates for employers to adopt, available online at www.gov.bm/sites/default/files/Bullying-Sexual-Harassment-Policy-Statement.pdf and the ILO’s Report is also online at Report: Preventing and addressing violence and harassment in the world of work through occupational safety and health measures (ilo.org).