Civil servants responsible for preventing sexual harassment

Date: Monday, May 8, 2017

The Government of Georgia is amending the Code of Conduct for Civil Servants to include the responsibilities of civil servants to prevent and respond to workplace sexual harassment.

Ekaterine Kardava, Director of the Civil Service Bureau explains the significance of amendments to the code of Conduct for Civil Servants to include the responsibilities of civil servants to prevent and respond to workplace sexual harassment; Photo: UN Women/Maka Gogaladze
Prepared with the technical support of UN Women, the draft amendments contribute to an environment conducive to further preventive efforts that will create workplaces free from sexual harassment. The decree amending the Code of Conduct for Civil Servants was adopted by the Government in March 2017, and the changes will come into force in July 2017. The provisions on sexual harassment are especially important considering the gaps in the national legislation. Specifically, the Labour Code does not cover the issue of sexual harassment, and the Gender Equality Law, which provides a definition of sexual harassment, does not provide for any legal sanctions.

Article 15 of the amended Code of Conduct stipulates that civil servants must be made aware of the definition and inadmissibility of sexual harassment in the workplace as well as in public places. It further specifies the responsibilities of managers and employers to respond to cases of sexual harassment. The draft amendments to the Code of Conduct were prepared by the Civil Service Bureau with the technical support of UN Women. Ekaterine Kardava, Director of the Civil Service Bureau, explains the significance of article 15: “The aim of these amendments is to create a working environment where everyone is treated equally, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. They will ensure that employees are aware of what sexual harassment is and how to disclose cases of sexual harassment. The regulations also stress the responsibility of managers to effectively deal with cases of unwelcome behavior.”

In parallel with the amendments to the Code of Conduct, UN Women has developed an online course for public servants on the prevention of workplace sexual harassment in partnership with the Civil Service Bureau, the Government Administration, the Gender Equality Council of the Parliament, the Public Defender's Office, Trade Unions and civil society partners. (The course is hosted by and easily accessed on the Public Defender’s Office webpage.) The Civil Service Bureau has issued a recommendation encouraging civil servants to take the course across all ministries and public agencies. In this regard, the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees has already introduced the course as mandatory learning for all staff.