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Experiences of violence and harassment at work: a global first survey

More than one in five people (almost 23%) in employment have experienced violence and harassment at work, whether physical, psychological or sexual, according to a new joint analysis, by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF) and Gallup.

This document presents an overview of the issue and its different forms. It also looks at the factors that may prevent people from talking about their experiences, including shame, guilt or a lack of trust in institutions, or because such unacceptable behaviours are seen as “normal”.

Violence and harassment at work is difficult to measure, says the ILO. The report found that only half of victims worldwide had disclosed their experiences to someone else, and often only after they had suffered more than one form of violence and harassment. The most common reasons given for non-disclosure were “waste of time” and “fear for their reputation”. Women were more likely to share their experiences than men (60.7% compared to 50.1%).

Globally, 17.9% of employed men and women said they had experienced psychological violence and harassment in their working life, and 8.5% had faced physical violence and harassment, with more men than women experiencing this. Of respondents, 6.3% reported facing sexual violence and harassment, with women being particularly exposed.

The groups most likely to be affected by different types of violence and harassment include youth, migrant workers, and wage and salaried women and men. Young women were twice as likely as young men to have faced sexual violence and harassment, and migrant women were almost twice as likely as non-migrant women to report sexual violence and harassment.

More than three out of five victims said they had experienced violence and harassment at work multiple times, and for the majority, the most recent incident took place within the last five years.

The report makes a range of recommendations, including:

  • Regular collection of robust data on violence and harassment at work, at national, regional and global levels, to inform prevention and remediation laws and mechanisms, policies and programmes, and research and advocacy.

  • Extend and update mechanisms to effectively prevent and manage violence and harassment in the world of work, including through labour inspection systems and occupational safety and health policies and programmes.

  • Increase awareness of violence and harassment at work, including its different manifestations, with a view to changing perceptions, stigmas, attitudes and behaviours that can perpetuate violence and harassment, particularly those based on discrimination.

  • Enhance the capacity of institutions at all levels to deliver effective prevention, remediation and support, to build people’s trust in justice and ensure victims are supported.

The ILO-LRF-Gallup study was based on interviews conducted in 2021 with nearly 75,000 employed individuals aged 15 years or older in 121 countries and territories, as part of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll.

Summary for Experiences of violence and harassment at work: A global first survey

Experiences of violence and harassment at work- A global first survey
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ILO December 2022

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