Sexual harassment guidelines drawn up for finance sector

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In May 2003, all companies in the Luxembourg finance sector were asked to adopt a set of guidelines on tackling sexual harassment and to distribute them to their workforces. This initiative was launched by organisations representing the sector's employers, personnel managers and occupational health services, and includes the creation of a panel of external confidential advisers to whom employees can refer cases of sexual harassment.

On the basis of the law of 26 May 2000 relating to sexual harassment (LU0005137F), the Personnel Officers' Group (Groupement des chefs du personnel, POG) - a network of finance sector human resources managers - the Luxembourg Association of Banks and Bankers (Association des Banques et Banquiers du Luxembourg, ABBL) and the Finance Sector Occupational Health Association (Association pour la santé au travail du secteur financier, ASTF) have drawn up a set of 'guidelines for conduct relating to sexual harassment' aimed at ensuring that the law is implemented in the finance sector in a practical and concrete manner. In late May 2003, the guidelines were sent to all 450 enterprises in the Luxembourg sector, with the organisations which drew them up proposing that the companies adopt the guidelines and distribute them to their entire workforces

The guidelines consist of three parts: the first is aimed at managers, and seeks to make them aware of the issue; the second reproduces the text of the 2000 law; and the third addresses the 36,000 workers in the sector.

As part of the initiative, the three organisations have established a panel of six external confidential advisers - specially trained by a Belgian enterprise for this kind of work - to whom employees can refer cases of sexual harassment. These advisers, who will be assisted by five occupational doctors from the ASTF, have the task of 'accepting, listening to, understanding and evaluating the seriousness of cases' before choosing the appropriate procedure, and supporting victims as they seek to defend their rights. This assistance, which is free of charge, includes the filing of a formal complaint with the employer. The guidelines set out the procedure for employees to have access to the advisors.

The director of ASTF states that 'although every case is unique, the question of sexual harassment is a delicate one, and demonstrates that many victims have experienced abuse when raising behaviour that has now been made criminal'. This is why a procedure has been devised guaranteeing the victims' anonymity vis-à-vis the employer, and enabling them to approach ASTF directly, instead of having to rely on support inside the enterprise.

It is also planned to extend the competence of the external confidential advisers to the issue of 'moral harassment', or bullying.

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