27 June 2018


CBI negotiates proposed global treaty to end workplace violence and harassment

The CBI continues international lobbying efforts to end violence and harassment in workplaces at the International Labour Conference

CBI negotiates proposed global treaty to end workplace violence and harassment

This month, the CBI represented UK employers at the annual International Labour Conference (ILC), where employers, trade unions and governments meet from around the world at the United Nations in Geneva. This year’s Conference discussed a proposed global treaty to address violence and harassment in the workplace. At present, the obligations on states and employers to end violence and harassment, including gender-based acts, are made at the national level.

Ending violence and harassment in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, it makes business sense. The CBI has long-argued that inclusive workplaces, free from violence and harassment, are key to economically and socially sustainable businesses. Early this year we recommended actions that the government and employers should take to prevent sexual harassment in UK workplaces.

This year’s International Labour Conference discussion will conclude in 2019 when a decision will be made about the scope and nature of the proposed global treaty. The employers’ group wants a widely adopted treaty which reflects business’ duty of care to protect all workers from violence and harassment. While there is tripartite agreement on the importance of action, there is more to do to draw up a proposed treaty that all parties can support.

At present, the employers’ group is concerned that the proposed treaty does not provide a practical, flexible and legally enforceable text on which governments can base national law. This is because of its imprecise definitions of ‘violence’, ‘harassment’ and ‘world of work’, and detailed prescription around employers’ responsibilities that would make it very difficult for small- and medium-sized businesses to fulfil their obligations.

The employers’ group wants to ensure that the proposed treaty includes protection for all workers. It wants protection for LGBTI people to be made abundantly clear, after some governments and the trade union group regrettably did not support its inclusion in the text. In partnership with the wider employers’ group, the CBI will lobby for improvements in these key areas over the next year so that the ambition of ending workplace violence and harassment can be made a reality for people around the world.

For more information about the CBI’s work at the International Labour Organisation, please contact Jennifer Beckwith.