The Danish government and social partners have entered into a agreement on initiatives to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Composed of 17 initiatives, the agreement will provide the necessary tools for employers to prevent and deal with sexual harassment and support a cultural change in certain workplaces. The 17 initiatives are divided into the main topics set out below.
The tripartite agreement contains five initiatives that aim to clarify the responsibilities and duties that primarily employers, but also employees, have in relation to sexual harassment. The level of compensation for sexual harassment under the Equal Treatment Act is proposed to be raised, and it is also possible to raise claims for compensation from the offender, which will be relevant in cases where the offending party is not the employer.
In addition, it will be made easier for the aggrieved party to identify facts that give rise to a presumption that sexual harassment has taken place.
Finally, the employer’s duty to provide a harassment-free environment and the employees’ duty to draw attention to sexual harassment will be clarified.
These initiatives require amendments to the Equal Treatment Act and the Working Environment Act. The Government will therefore submit a bill on these initiatives to the Folketing (Danish parliament).
The tripartite agreement contains three initiatives that aim at allowing individual organisations to focus on sexual harassment and on a healthy work culture. The initiatives include policies for dealing with and preventing sexual harassment and focus on sexual harassment in the work related to health and safety risk assessments (so-called APVs). In addition, the social partners have drawn up a code on the use of confidentiality clauses.
Knowledge of sexual harassment
The tripartite agreement contains three initiatives, which deal with the collection of information on experience from the Danish Working Environment Authority’s initiatives. It also states that the Danish Working Environment Authority must make a statement of the number of decisions, guidelines, etc. about sexual harassment annually.
Trainees and apprentices
The tripartite agreement contains five initiatives that are intended to strengthen the legal position of trainees and apprentices in sexual harassment claims. Among them is a clarification of the possibility of terminating the training agreement between a trainee or apprentice and the employer in the event of sexual harassment and the introduction of more lenient deadline rules and faster processing of cases of sexual harassment in the Dispute Board.
The initiatives will require changes to the Vocational Education Act.
A forward-looking focus
Finally, the tripartite agreement contains a proposal to establish an alliance with relevant organisations in the labour market, the education sector and civil society with a view to preventing sexual harassment.
The initiatives that can be implemented without changes to the law entered into force immediately upon the conclusion of the tripartite agreement on 4 March 2022. Initiatives that require changes to the law will only be implemented after consideration and adoption in the Folketing.