Introduces the code, defines harassment, explains employers' obligations, sets out an employee's right to information and remedies for contravention, and gives advise on preparing an harassment policy.

The Equality Authority has prepared a new code of practice on harassment at work, the Employment Equality Act 1998 (Code of Practice) (Harassment) Order 2012 (SI No 208 of 2012). This code replaced The Employment Equality Act 1998 (Code of Practice) (Harassment) Order 2002 from 31 May 2012.

The aim of the code is to give practical guidance to employers and employees on:

  • What is meant by sexual harassment and harassment in the workplace.
  • What steps to take to deal with harassment and how to prevent its reoccurrence.

Small and medium sized enterprises may adapt some of the practical steps set out in the code to their specific needs. Any adaptations, however, should be fully consistent with the code’s general intention.

The code deals with sexual harassment on the gender ground and harassment on the eight other discriminatory grounds, namely civil status, family status, sexual orientation, disability, age, race, religious belief, membership of the Traveller Community.

It applies to all employments, employment agencies, trade unions, employer bodies and professional bodies that are covered by the Employment Equality Act.

The Employment Equality Act protects employees from harassment by:

  • their employer
  • fellow employees
  • clients
  • customers
  • other business contacts such as suppliers of goods and services, maintenance contractors and volunteers

The scope of the harassment provisions may extend beyond the workplace, for example, to conferences and training that occur outside the workplace. It may also extend to work related social events. The provisions on harassment apply to employment agencies and vocational training.

The code is admissible in evidence and will be taken into account in determining any relevant question arising in any criminal or other proceedings. That said, the code does not impose any legal obligations nor is it an authoritative statement of the law.

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