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Prevention of Harassment in the Workplace



Law 73/2017, of 16th of August, reinforces the legislative efforts regarding the prevention of harassment. It defines harassment as the unwanted behaviour, namely based on discrimination factors, during the job application process, at the workplace or at professional certification courses, with the aim or the effect of disturbing or constraining the person, affecting his or her dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or unbalanced surroundings.

What changes in the Employment Code with this new legislation?

  • The victim of harassment has the right to be compensated, for damages (including moral damages);
  • There may be criminal prosecution for those who practice harassment in any of its forms;
  • The whistle-blower and witnesses indicated by him or her cannot be subject to disciplinary sanctions as a result of facts or declarations made during the proceedings related to the harassment;
  • When the company has 7 (seven) or more workers, the employer must approve a code of proper conduct to prevent and avoid harassment in the workplace, otherwise the employer will be subject to a fine (it is considered a serious offence);
  • It is mandatory to start disciplinary proceedings when the employer has knowledge of alleged harassment situations, otherwise it will be considered as a serious offence;
  • Regarding the agreements for the termination of employment contracts, it is mandatory to make reference to the deadline within which the employee can withdraw from the agreement;
  • In the case of conviction, the publication of the decision is mandatory.

In this sense, we stress that, in preventive terms, the employers should approve their codes of conduct as soon as possible, since their inexistence in companies with more than 7 workers is considered a serious offence.

On the other hand, whenever the employer has knowledge of a harassment situation, it is obliged to start disciplinary proceedings, losing its discretionary power on this particular matter.

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