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A Step Forward in the Fight Against Workplace Harassment: Reforms to the Labor Code

By: Ab. Cristina Guarderas Bilbao

 

In an effort to eradicate harassment and violence in the workplace, the "Organic Law Reform Project for the Eradication of Violence and Harassment in all Forms of Work" has been approved by the Assembly. This project, pending presidential veto, introduces modifications to the Labor Code, with the aim of protecting the dignity and security of the worker.


Five Modifications

1. Complaint procedures and worker-employer committee

Normally, it is possible to agree on complaint procedures and form a committee to address labor issues, but for cases of violence and workplace harassment, due to their seriousness, these must be handled directly by the labor authority. This seeks to prevent further victimization and protect the accused's right to the presumption of innocence.


2. Refom in the definition of workplace harassment

Violence and workplace harassment are described as unacceptable actions or behaviors that can occur in isolation or repeatedly, causing harm in various forms (physical, psychological, sexual, economic, political, symbolic, or digital) to an employee. However, this same article introduces a contradiction in its second paragraph by specifying that to be considered violence and harassment, such behaviors must occur repeatedly. This discrepancy could complicate the identification and confirmation of acts of violence and harassment, creating a challenge in the effective application of the law.


3. Change of occupation without consent

It clarifies that changing someone's occupation without their written permission, especially if this reduces their salary, is considered a form of psychological and economic violence. This act is already considered as unfair dismissal under current law.


4. Extension of protection against harassment

Protection against violence and harassment is extended to a broader range of people within the work environment, including interns, apprentices, the dismissed, volunteers, job seekers, applicants, and outsourced workers. This means that protection is sought for more people, but it does not detail how the labor authority will guarantee the rights of those who do not have a formal employment relationship.


5. Powers of labor inspectors

Inspectors can now issue fines to employers for violence and workplace harassment, order public apologies, assess harassment risks in the workplace, and in cases where the perpetrator is not identified, they can issue a public statement indicating that it is an alleged case of harassment or violence, always maintaining the principle of presumption of innocence.


Conclusions

These reforms to the Labor Code reflect the legislative commitment to creating a safe and respectful work environment for all. Although the path to the complete eradication of workplace harassment is complex, these modifications are a crucial step forward.


Would you like to know more about your employer obligations, labor rights, or how these reforms may affect you? Contact us to receive specialized advice and make sure you are aware of how these important modifications can benefit you.

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The content of this blog is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Regulations in Ecuador are subject to changes and updates that may affect the applicability and accuracy of the content published here. We do not guarantee that the information presented is accurate, complete or current at the time of reading. Therefore, past postings should not be construed as necessarily reflecting current regulations. We strongly recommend that you consult with our qualified attorneys for specific and personalized advice.

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