The International Labor Organization (ILO)
Since the ILO was founded more than 100 years ago as a specialized agency of the United Nations, it has aimed to promote decent working conditions, improve social protection and strengthen social dialog.
The ILO consists of different bodies: the Governing Body, the International Labor Office and, last but not least, the International Labor Conference.
Mission and legal acts of the ILO
The ILO’s tasks include advancing the development of international labor standards. For this purpose, the international labor conference develops and adopts conventions and recommendations. However, only conventions of the labor conference are binding for member states.
Therefore, Member States are obliged to submit the contents of the conventions to the national legislator. However, the national legislator is not necessarily required to ratify a convention and subsequently implement the contents of the convention in national law.
Convention 190 of the ILO
The core of Convention 190 consists of protecting people against violence and harassment in the workplace. On a legal level, the Convention represents a major step to combat harassment, physical and psychological violence and, not least, sexualized violence in the working environment. Essentially it serves to take the “#metoo debate” and, therefore, the fight against harassment and (sexualized) violence to a new level and make it even more justiciable on a national level.
Convention 190 of the ILO clearly defines that it not only concerns conduct directly in the workplace but intends to extend the protection to areas such as
- private rooms which are places of work,
- break rooms, canteens, washrooms, changing rooms, etc.,
- accommodation provided by the employer
- work-related travel and trips
- work-related communication (e.g. e-mails) and
- when commuting to and from work.
The convention aims to ensure that in future people will receive protection not only in the workplace but within the entire work-related context (“work environment”).
Current status: Law ratified
As of May 2023, the lawmaker has first passed the law required for the ratification of Convention 190 of the ILO.
After the German Bundestag passed the draft to ratify the International Labor Organization’s Convention No. 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment on April 20, 2023,the German Bundesrat (Federal Council) also approved the bill on May 12, 2023.
This freshly passed law is now clear the way for further legal protection against harassment and violence in the work environment on a national level in Germany.
Ultimately, German lawmakers will have the task of effectively translating the requirements of ILO Convention 190 into national law in the coming months.
The ratification of ILO Convention 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work is an important first step. Now, it depends on establishing national law which provides even more effective (legal) protection against violence and harassment. Employers need to monitor this issue and any related need for action which arises in the future.