30% of companies say they do not have protocols against sexual harassment even though it is a serious offense

The third Equality Observatory of the Adecco Group Institute, the study and dissemination center of the Adecco Group, leaves a worrying figure. Practically 30% of companies (29%) say they do not have a protocol against sexual or gender-based harassment, an obligation established by the Organic Law of Equality. Its non-compliance supposes a serious infraction of labor relations and, depending on the case, there are those who consider that it can also be sanctioned for lack of prevention of occupational risks, with greater fines for companies.

The Adecco Equality Observatory, presented this week, asks "more than 30,000 companies" about different labor measures related to gender equality. For example, on the preparation of equality plans, mandatory for all companies with more than 50 workers since last March 7as well as measures against harassment, to guarantee equality in selection processes and to favor conciliation, among others.

One of the most unfavorable results refers to the prevention and protection against sexual or gender-based harassment. This, "as well as any unfavorable treatment related to pregnancy, maternity, paternity or assumption of other family care, is considered discriminatory and is expressly prohibited by Organic Law 3/2007", reminds the Ministry of Equality.

When companies were asked about the existence of protocols against harassment, 29% said they did not have them. Another 44% respond that harassment "is addressed comprehensively, also including workplace harassment or mobbing." 20% say that "sexual or gender-based harassment and other types of harassment related to gender or sexual orientation are covered." And, finally, another 7% respond that their protocols only contemplate sexual or gender-based harassment.

That 30% of companies without a protocol against harassment is surprisingly high, given that all companies are required to have it. The Equality Law establishes in its article 48 that all of them, without differentiating size, "must promote working conditions that avoid sexual harassment and harassment based on sex and arbitrate specific procedures for its prevention and to give channel to the complaints or claims that may be formulated by those who have been the object of the same".

One of the explanations for the high level of non-compliance with this measure, much higher than in any other response from the Adecco Observatory, may lie in the lack of knowledge of this requirement and the confusion with equality plans, which are mandatory only in companies with 50 or more workers.

In fact, in Adecco Group Institute they respond to this medium that in that 30% of companies without protocol there may be companies that are not obliged because they do not have to make an equality plan. But it's not like that. All equality plans must contain protocols against harassment, but this last measure is also required of all companies.

"Regardless of the name, whether you call it protocol or procedure, all companies, regardless of their size and the obligation to develop equality plans, must develop a series of measures to implement equal treatment. And, among them, is to establish these procedures against harassment," warns the labor inspector Mercedes Martínez Aso, spokesperson for UPIT.

"It seems that protocol sounds like something more orderly, like plans, but in any case companies are required to have concrete and specific procedures," he adds.

The Women's Institute provide on your website two downloadable models of anti-harassment protocols: one for companies that must include them in their equality plans and another for smaller companies, with less than 50 employees, that are not required to have plans.

Companies that fail to comply with this mandate, whether through ignorance or intention, are committing a serious violation of labor relations. The LISOS (Law of Infractions and Sanctions of the Social Order) recognizes as such not fulfilling the obligations in terms of equality plans, but also of "equality measures established by Organic Law 3/2007, of March 22, for equality of women and men, the Workers' Statute or the applicable collective agreement". Among them, anti-harassment procedures.

The fines to companies for serious infractions can range from 751 to 1,500 euros in its minimum degree; 1,501 to 3,750 euros in the middle; and in its maximum degree from 3,751 to 7,500 euros.

Ana Ercoreca, spokesperson for the Union of Labor and Social Security Inspectors (SITSS), maintains that companies can be fined for this specific breach of equality measures, but considers that "also for the lack of occupational risk prevention depending on the case, we would have to analyze the specific situation". In that case, the fines can be much higher: from 2,451 euros to a maximum of 49,180 euros in cases of serious infringements.

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