Tripartite agreement on initiatives against sexual harassment

The Government and social partners have entered into a tripartite agreement on sexual harassment to support a cultural change in this area.

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The Government and social partners have entered into a tripartite agreement on initiatives to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Composed of 17 initiatives, the agreement will provide the necessary tools for employers to prevent and deal with sexual harassment and support a cultural change in certain workplaces. The 17 initiatives concern the following main topics:

  • Legal framework

The tripartite agreement contains five initiatives that aim to clarify primarily employers’, but also employees', responsibilities and duties in relation to sexual harassment. The level of compensation for sexual harassment under the Equal Treatment Act is proposed to be raised, and it is possible (also) to raise claims for compensation from the offender, which will be relevant in cases where the offending party is not the employer. In addition, it will be made easier for the aggrieved party to identify facts that give rise to a presumption that sexual harassment has taken place. Finally, the employer's duty to provide a harassment-free environment and the employees' duty to draw attention to sexual harassment will be clarified.

These initiatives require amendments to the Equal Treatment Act and the Working Environment Act. The Government will therefore introduce a bill on these initiatives to Parliament.

  • Focus on sexual harassment

The tripartite agreement contains three initiatives that aim at allowing individual employers to focus on sexual harassment and a healthy work culture, such as policies for dealing with and preventing sexual harassment as well as focus on sexual harassment in the work related to health and safety risk assessments. In addition, the social partners have drawn up a code on the use of confidentiality clauses.

  • Knowledge of sexual harassment

The tripartite agreement contains three initiatives which deal with, for example, the collection of information on experience from the Working Environment Authority's initiatives. It also states that the Working Environment Authority must make a statement of the number of decisions, guidelines, etc. about sexual harassment annually.

  • Trainees and apprentices

The tripartite agreement contains five initiatives that are intended to strengthen the legal position of trainees and apprentices in sexual harassment claims. This includes clarification of the possibility of terminating the training/apprenticeship agreement between a trainee/apprentice and the employer and by introducing more lenient deadline rules and faster processing of sexual harassment cases in the Dispute Resolution Board.

The initiatives will require amendments to the Vocational Education Act.

  • A forward-looking focus

Finally, the tripartite agreement contains a proposal to establish an alliance with relevant organisations in the labour market, the education sector and civil society with a view to preventing sexual harassment.

The initiatives that can be implemented without amendments to the law entered into force immediately upon the conclusion of the tripartite agreement on 4 March 2022. Initiatives that require changes to the law will be implemented after the reading and adoption process in Parliament.

The content of the above is not, and should not be a substitute for legal advice.

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