GEA urges employers to take action on workplace violence and harassment

Some participants at the Workshop in Kumasi

The Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA) in collaboration with the Bureau for Employers ‘Activities of the International Labour Organisation (ACTEMP of ILO)last year developed a practical guide to assist its members with how to address, prevent and respond to issues of violence and harassment at their workplaces.

Further to this, GEA has been organising sensitisation workshops for its members in the Ashanti, Western and soon Greater Accra Regions in order to facilitate the guide’s effective implementation.

The first training workshop on the guide was held in Kumasi on September 20, 2023.  The workshop brought together Chief Executive Officers, HR practitioners, Employee Relations Managers and Supervisors of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), who were sensitised on the newly developed guide aimed at addressing issues of violence and harassment at the workplace.

Empowering employers

In his opening remarks at the workshop, Mr. Kingsley Laar – an Economist and Research Officer of the GEA, indicated that employers have a responsibility to ensure their companies are free of violence and harassment; not only because of their duty of care toward the workforce, but also because the issue can have a very negative impact on the company’s productivity and reputation.

He further emphasised that workplace violence and harassment come in various forms, including verbal abuse, physical aggression, discrimination and sexual harassment; and these behaviours can create a toxic work environment which has detrimental effects on employees’ mental and physical health, as well as the overall performance of businesses.

Some of the participants at the Takoradi Training

Mr. Laar highlighted that the GEA, recognising the significance of the issue, collaborated with the Bureau of Employers Activities of the ILO to develop practical tools and strategies for Ghanaian employers – to help them prevent and eliminate all forms of violence and harassment at the enterprise level.

He emphasised that the guide reflects Ghanaian laws and legislation – including the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana; Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651); Labour Regulations, 2007 (LI 1833); Labour (Domestic Workers) Regulations, 2020 (LI 2408); Criminal and Other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29); Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732); Whistleblowers Act, 2006 (Act 720); and Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038).

He admonished employers to ensure that their workplaces are not only legally compliant but also respectful, inclusive and conducive for higher productivity.

Remarks by the Bureau for Employers’ Activities of the ILO

Julie Kazagui, a Senior Employers’ Specialist of the Bureau for Employers’ Activities of the ILO, thanked GEA for organising such an important training session. She further referred to a survey conducted in 2021-2022 by the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations in Ghana, which found that 72 percent of the workforce in Ghana were found to have experienced at least one form of violence and/or harassment at the workplace.

She further indicated that the report revealed nearly half of all victims were wage employees – indicating that wage employees are twice as exposed to violence and harassment compared to the self-employed.

According to Ms. Julie, the workshop exemplified the commitment of GEA and ILO to fostering a culture of respect and safety within the workplace, as well as equipping employers with the knowledge and tools necessary to prevent workplace violence and harassment. She also commended the GEA for its leadership and commitment to ensuring that all workplaces get rid of violence and harassment issues.

Workshop highlights

The workshop, which was facilitated by Ms. Bernice Sam, a lawyer and expert in gender diversity and inclusion, was an engaging and informative event designed to empower employers with actionable knowledge and best practices. The main highlights included interactive discussions, practical insights, real-world case studies and networking opportunities.

Renewed sense of purpose for employers

Participants left the workshop with a renewed sense of purpose and determination, as they committed to taking different actions at their organisational levels to ensure that all potential issues of violence and harassment are critically assessed and prevented.

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