Italy: the first country in Europe to recognise the right to work in a workplace free from violence and harassment

The Law n.4, 15/01/2021, was published and it involves the ratify and put into practice of the OIL Convention n. 190 (Geneva Convention) about the erasure of violence and harassment at work. 

By implementing this law on 27th January 2021, Italy became the first European country to ratify the Geneva Convention, it happened as part of the 100th International Labour Organization anniversary.

An ONU study stated that 35% of the women – 818 millions in the whole world – older than 15 have been subjects of physical or sexual violence at home, in their community or at work. In Italy, this percentage is at 31,5% (ISTAT).

The new regulations imply the right to work in an environment free from violence and harassment, including the gender-based ones, as a human right, and so it’s applied to all workers.

Italian law defines workers in a wide sense, including also the ones in training, fired, looking for job, and employers.

Covering them all is fundamental, gender based violence is still one of the most tolerated violations of human rights in the work environment.

The definition of violence and harassment was largely discussed before the law was signed, representatives from companies, labor unions and the Government got to a final agreement.

The aim was to get to a clear definition of behaviors that are actually manipulative and that use ambiguities in relationships with different amounts of power among people.

Thanks to the Geneva Convention and to Italian law, there’s no more doubt: it is considered violation of worker’s human rights “all those unacceptable practices and behaviors, or their threat, both done once or more times, that cause or may cause physical, psychological, sexual or economical damage, this includes violence and harassment based off gender”. Lastly, it’s good to remind that harassment is also in those behaviors that, regardless of the aim, violate human dignity, put at risk everyone’s health and create an hostile work environment.