JEDDAH: The Labor Ministry has put in place a strict regimen of penalties against those involved in sexual harassment or abuse at work.
According to a local media report, penalties will start with deductions from the harasser’s salary and end with dismissal from the job if harassment incidents occur more than four times.
The executive list of the new labor regulation said that if the culprit is found guilty of having illegal sexual affairs or indecent sexual advances in words or actions at the workplace, it shall attract the punishment of dismissal from work.
The list strictly prohibits being alone with the opposite sex at the workplace, bans harassment and physical abuse. It also shows zero tolerance for any indecent or undermining action or saying that hurts others’ dignity.
The regulation said compelling any colleague to establish an illicit relationship, even jokingly, or alluding to it, shall be listed as a punishable abusive action.
The regulation identifies a number of behaviors that are listed as victimization. They include all forms of exploitation, inducement or threat, whether physical or psychological or sexual, at the workplace. Whoever is found guilty — employer and employee — shall be taken to task.
Any person who covers up or helps such abusive practices shall be punished with the same penalties, said the regulation.
It also defined five days at most for the victim of harassment or abuse to file a complaint to the administration of the establishment, and the right to file such complaints to the competent authorities if needed.
The establishment, upon receiving the complaint, must form a committee to investigate the abuse within five days, and impose punitive procedures against the accused.
If the abuse or harassment constitutes a criminal action, relevant authorities must be informed.
The penalties stated in the executive list are four starting with a two-day salary deduction, three days for the second offense, five days for third time, and dismissal from work for the fourth time, with no prejudice to other sanctions stated in the law.