Thirteenth Report Contents

Chapter 2: Agreement reported for information

The ILO Violence and Harassment Convention 2019 (CP 555, 2021)16

17.The International Labour Organisation Violence and Harassment Convention 2019 (No. 190) (the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment) was laid on 15 November 2021, and the scrutiny period is scheduled to end on 15 December 2021. It was considered by the Committee on 8 December 2021.

18.The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is a specialist tripartite agency of the United Nations which seeks to brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member States, to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all.

19.The ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment was adopted in June 2019 at the 108th Session of the International Labour Conference.

20.The ILO describes the Convention as the “first international treaty to recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment”.17 It has indicated that States which sign the ILO Convention:

“… will be required to put in place the necessary laws and policy measures to prevent and address violence and harassment in the world of work. The Convention represents an historic opportunity to shape a future of work based on dignity and respect for all.”18

21. Article 2 of the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment sets out that its scope is to protect workers and “other persons in the world of work”. This includes:

“… employees as defined by national law and practice, as well as persons working irrespective of their contractual status, persons in training, including interns and apprentices, workers whose employment has been terminated, volunteers, jobseekers and job applicants, and individuals exercising the authority, duties or responsibilities of an employer.”19

22.The Convention seeks to protect workers from violence and harassment by requiring States to adopt an inclusive, integrated and sex-responsive approach for the prevention and elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work. Violence and harassment are described in the Convention as a range of unacceptable behaviours, practices or threats “that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm”.20

23.In addition to the legally binding text of the Convention itself, the ILO has also published guidance on its practical application.21

24.The Convention entered into force on 25 June 2021, twelve months after two members of the ILO had ratified it.22 The Explanatory Memorandum (EM) accompanying the Convention indicates that the UK Government was “very positively engaged in negotiating and concluding the adoption of the Convention and considers it important to ratify it in order to demonstrate continued international leadership on this important issue”.23

25.The EM states that no new legislation is required to implement the Convention (and sets out a list of more than 30 measures which ensure that sexual offences, harassment, stalking, domestic violence and employment rights are dealt with in UK law). Consequently, it appears that the Convention will grant workers no additional rights than already exist under UK domestic law.

26.The Government was asked a written question about ratification of the Convention in February 2020. In response, Mims Davies MP, a Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions, said that:

“My Department is currently taking the steps necessary to ensure full cross-Government consideration of ratification, including consulting the Devolved Administrations. Once this process has been completed, we will inform Parliament of the Government’s intentions with regards to ratification.”24

27.This consultation has now taken place and, as no further implementing legislation is required, the Convention’s ratification can take place as soon as the CRAG period has expired on 15 December.

Entry into force

28.The Convention would enter into force for the UK one year after the date of the UK’s ratification.25

Governance and amendments

29.The EM accompanying the Convention makes no clear reference to governance, enforcement or amendments. It does highlight a provision which allows the Convention to be denounced.

30.From the text of the Convention itself, it appears that enforcement and remedies are only to be provided through domestic laws and regulations.26

31.Article 15 provides that a Member which has ratified this Convention may denounce it only at defined points every ten years from the date on which the Convention first comes into force.

32.The EM provided with the Convention makes no reference to amendments. The text of the Convention itself provides that if the Conference of the ILO should adopt a new Convention revising the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment, then the new revising Convention “shall ipso jure involve the immediate denunciation of this Convention, notwithstanding the provisions of Article 15 above, if and when the new revising Convention shall have come into force”.27 We anticipate that any new revising Convention would be subject to ratification under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.

33.We regret that the Government did not set out its own views on these issues in the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) accompanying the Convention, as set out in the FCDO guidance on the drafting of EMs. We call on the Government to notify us if it disagrees with any of our conclusions.

Territorial scope and consultation

34.The Convention applies to the UK only. The EM makes clear that the Government will work with any Overseas Territory and Crown Dependency which wishes the UK’s ratification of this Convention to extend to it in the future.

35.The EM also indicates that the Government consulted the Devolved Administrations on the drafting of this Convention and in the preparation of this EM. It states that each of the Devolved Administrations is content for the UK Government to ratify the Convention. In addition, the Government indicated that it consulted with representatives of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and NGOs, all of whom were strongly supportive of the Convention’s aims and the Government’s intention to ratify.

36.We report the International Labour Organisation Violence and Harassment Convention 2019 to the House for Information. We note, in particular, the concern raised at paragraph 33.

16 International Labour Organization, ‘Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the World of Work’: [accessed 9 December 2021]

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

19 Article 2

20 Article 1

21 International Labour Organization, ‘Recommendation R206: Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 (No. 206)’, 10 June 2019: [accessed 9 December 2021]

22 At the time of writing, nine countries had ratified the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment: Uruguay, Greece, Italy, Argentina, Ecuador, Fiji, Namibia, Mauritius and Somalia.

23 Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Explanatory memorandum: ILO Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No.190), November 2021: [accessed 9 December 2021]

24 Ministerial statement 12984, Session 2019-21

25 Article 14

26 Articles 10 and 12

27 Article 19

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