VR assists you!

In view of the discussion that has come about in the community, in connection with the #metoo revolution, it is important that VR members know that they can turn to VR if they have experienced sexual harassment in their work place.

A working team operates within VR which addresses issues connected with sexual harassment and bullying in the work place.

See regulation on bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and violence in the workplace (In Icelandic).

Contact VR by telephone 510 1700 and receive more information and assistance.

Survey among VR members

VR is currently conducting a survey among its members about sexual harassment and violence in the work place. The survey was sent to close on ten thousand VR members in mid-December 2017 and is ongoing at least until the end of the year. In the survey, members are both asked if they have witnessed sexual harassment in their work place and if they have experienced such harassment, in the last twelve months on one hand and at any point in time on the other. It is the hope of VR that as many as possible respond to the survey as this way valuable information is acquired about the situation in the labour market.

Sexual harassment

We are all entitled to our work environment being characterized by mutual respect in communications. This includes i.a. to be protected against gender-based and sexual harassment and other violence in the work place. Such behaviour is both a violation of the law and morally reprehensible. This applies whether it is the behaviour of the employer, co-workers or individuals who the worker needs to communicate with on account of his work.

The employer is under obligation to minimize conditions arising in the work place where harassment or violence can thrive, as well as being under obligation to not allow such behaviour to go on in the work place. Employers must make it clear to employees in definite terms that such behaviour is not permitted. An employee who becomes aware of harassment or violence in the workplace is furthermore under obligation to inform the employer or work protection representative of such things.

How should I react?

An employee who considers himself to have experienced sexual harassment or violence or has a reasonable suspicion or knowledge of such behaviour in the work place must inform the employer and/or the work protection representative of this. If the complaint is against the employer himself, the matter must be brought to his immediate supervisor or as appropriate, the chairman of the board in the case of a company or organization.

Possible ways

Unions and public institutions can provide employees with information, consultation and assistance regarding gender-based harassment, sexual harassment and violence in the work place.

Unions
The main role of the unions is to guard their members’ interests. This includes providing members with assistance and consultation if they feel that they live under unsuitable work conditions such as due to gender-based harassment, sexual harassment and violence in the work place.

Administration of Occupational Safety and Health
The Administration of Occupational Safety and Health is the agent which supervises the implementation of work protection activities and the regulation on bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and violence in workplaces. The Administration of Occupational Safety and Health does not have the role of ruling on whether a particular behaviour is considered sexual or gender-based harassment or violence in workplaces. The role of the institution includes, however, to follow up on the employer fulfilling his obligations according to the regulation, such as regarding risk assessment and preventive measures.

The Centre for Gender Equality
The Center for Gender Equality supervises the implementation of equal rights law, is responsible for educational- and informational work and provides counsel in the area of gender equality. The institution works on preventive measures against gender-based violence in collaboration with others who specifically run such prevention. The Centre for Gender Equality monitors that work places, where 25 employees or more are working on a yearly basis, have a valid equality plan. Such plan are to, i.a., specify the particular arrangements which the employer makes to prevent gender-based violence, gender-based harassment or sexual harassment in the workplace. If the Centre for Gender Equality has a reasonable suspicion that an institution, company or organization has violated the law, it must see if there is reason to request that the Appeals Committee of Equal Rights processes the case. It is obligatory to provide the Centre for Gender Equality with the information and data which the institution considers necessary to inform of case merits.

Appeals Committee of Equal Rights
The work of the Appeals Committee of Equal Rights is to process issues and deliver a written ruling on whether the provisions of the equal rights law have been violated. Individuals, companies, institutions and organizations can bring a case before the Appeals Committee of Equal Rights if the respective party considers the provisions of the law to have been violated. The appeal-committee’s conclusion is binding and this entails that the employer must either comply with the committee’s ruling and react according to it or he can bring the case before a court for resolution within a designated time frame.

Police
Sexual harassment and violence can be reported to the police and such violations are addressed in the general penal law. The case procedure resulting from the law is different from what has been described above where a complaint or rather a charge because of such behaviour is not directed towards an employer but rather an alleged perpetrator. Sexual harassment in the eyes of the general penal law can be punishable by imprisonment for up to two years. It is clear from the definition of the penal law about sexual harassment that the law covers more serious cases as it states that it includes i.a. to stroke, grope or touching the genitals or breasts of another person inside their clothes as well as outside and symbolic behaviour or language which is hurtful, repeatedly or causing fear.

 

 

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Brochure – Gender-based and sexual harassment and violence in work places.

The definition of gender-based harassment, sexual harassment and violence will be discussed here. Examples of which behaviour falls under this will also be discussed as well as the employer’s obligations because of such behaviour and possible ways for an individual who considers himself having suffered such behaviour. 

Sækja í pdf

Employers’ obligations

The regulation on bullying and sexual harassment places certain obligations on the shoulders of employers. It states i.a. that the employer must discern risk factors of bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and violence in the workplace.

It also states that the employer must plan preventive measures where it is i.a. explained which action will be taken in order to prevent bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and violence in the work place. See more in the brochure from the Administration of Occupational Safety and Health.

01.01.0001

Brochure for administrators – We do not accept bullying, harassment, violence

The publication is intended to guide and support administrators and others in work places in preventing and reacting to bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and other violence in work places.

Sækja í pdf

What is sexual harassment?

Any type of sexual behaviour which is unwelcome to the person affected by it and is intended to impair the self-respect of the person concerned, or which has this effect, particularly when the behaviour results in threatening, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offending circumstances. The behaviour can be verbal, non-verbal and/or physical. 

What is gender-based harassment?

Conduct which is connected with the gender of the person affected by it, is unwelcome to the person in question and has the purpose or effect of offending the dignity of the respective person and creates circumstances that are hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive to the respective person. 

Violence

Any type of behaviour which leads to, or could lead to physical or psychological damage or suffering for the one who experiences it, also a threat of such behaviour, intimidation or random captivity.

Sexual harassment can i.a. manifest as:

  • Unwanted physical contact, touching or petting
  • Unwelcome insinuations, jokes, comments on looks and profane language
  • Suggestive and degrading offers
  • Pornographic pictures in the work place
  • Demand of sexual repayment
  • Physical coercion

Sexual harassment can lead to:

  • Absence and sickness
  • Stress and anger
  • Depression
  • Insomnia and stress-related symptoms such as headache, skin problems, indigestion and more