Bridgetown - Barbados' Sexual Harassment Act was proclaimed in December 2017, it is formally known as the Employment Sexual Harassment (Prevention) Act (ESHA) 2017 . Under the Act, every employer must ensure that within six months of its commencement, they provide a clearly articulated, written policy statement against sexual harassment in the workplace.
Acting Chief Labour Officer (CLO), Victor Felix, explained the provisions in the Act in greater detail, during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service.
The top labour official stated that sexual harassment, under the legislation, included “the use of sexually suggestive words, comments, jokes, gestures or actions that annoy, alarm or abuse a person”. Also included, he pointed out, were "the initiation of unwanted physical contact, unwelcome sexual advances or requests".
"The Sexual Harassment Act provides a framework for the reporting and lodging of complaints; and provides for the investigation, hearing and determination of sexual harassment complaints. The Act also provides for strict confidentiality, except to the extent necessary for the purposes of the Act," he noted.
Contravention of the Employment Sexual Harassment (Prevention) Act will result in the imposition of penalties.
"The steps employees can take if they experience sexual harassment in the workplace, such as peer-on-peer harassment, are to complain to your supervisor or management to resolve the issue. If you are not satisfied with the internal resolution, then you can approach the Chief Labour Officer on the matter. If the sexual harassment is against the chief executive officer of the organisation, then you may want to approach the CLO from the very outset.
"After the Chief Labour Officer has investigated and sought to bring a resolution to the matter, but is not satisfied that they have brought a resolution that is satisfactory, then the matter will go on to the Employment Rights Tribunal for a resolution," he explained.