November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. In this regard, it is pertinent to know what are the existing mechanisms to prevent and punish sexual harassment at work, a form of violence that, in the vast majority of cases, has women as victims.
Ana Sofía Apaza, senior associate in the labor area of Estudio Olaechea, highlights the importance of companies taking preventive actions in order to avoid behaviors that are not permitted at work and that are punishable. The foregoing, unfortunately, does not prevent the existence of conduct of sexual connotation in the workplace.
“In these cases, the victims have the right to file a complaint with the company, for which they must present evidence, such as photos, videos, WhatsApp messages, witnesses, among others. It’s not easy. Therefore, it is key to focus more on prevention ”, she stated.
Therefore, if a case of sexual harassment occurs, companies must have the tools to attend to it adequately, protecting the victim and carrying out the procedure required by law.
In this sense, the expert affirmed that Law 27942, Law for the prevention and punishment of sexual harassment, as well as its regulation, Supreme Decree 014-2019-MIMP, propose a series of provisions that companies must comply with.
This regulation is applicable in public and private sector workplaces, as well as in educational institutions, the Armed Forces, the National Police of Peru, in the case of domestic workers, among other areas, both during working hours as outside of it, including social events, such as the end of the year parties.
Definition of sexual harassment
The regulation of Law 27942 defines sexual harassment as “conduct of a sexual or sexist nature or connotation that is unwanted by the person against whom it is directed. This conduct can create an intimidating, hostile or humiliating environment or affect the work, educational, training or any other type of activity or situation of the victim”.
Following this definition, according to Apaza, some manifestations that can be classified as sexual harassment are: whistling or comments about clothing with sexual connotations, sexist comments or about sexual experiences, leering remarks or glances, improper touching, among others.
The current regulation requires companies to have an internal policy and a procedure for the prevention and punishment of sexual harassment; establish an intervention committee against sexual harassment (companies with 20 or more workers) or a delegate (companies with less than 20 workers); and provide mandatory training for workers at the beginning of the employment relationship, to the Human Resources area and, as the case may be, to the committee or delegate.
“Companies that fail to comply with these obligations can receive sanctions that can amount to approximately 3,100 soles in micro-enterprises, 35,200 soles in small companies and 241,500 soles in non-Mype, that is, in medium and large companies,” the lawyer said.
While, he added, if a case of harassment is verified, depending on the seriousness of the offense, the harasser may have sanctions ranging from a written reprimand to even dismissal. If there are indications of a crime, the employer must inform the Public Ministry or the National Police of Peru.
Keys to deal with a case of sexual harassment
Although prevention should be promoted, Apaza also highlighted the importance of establishing a protocol that prioritizes the well-being of the victim, as indicated by current regulations. To do this, it shares five aspects that companies must comply with:
Source: The Peruvian