The European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has drawn up a list of good practices after reviewing the anti-harassment policies in 26 EU institutions and agencies.
The practices cover awareness raising, workplace risk assessment, regular policy monitoring, mandatory training, swift procedures, and rehabilitation measures.
“While the EU institutions generally have good anti-harassment policies, my report shows that more can and must be done to bring them into line with the legitimate expectations of a post #MeToo society. The aim of this mapping exercise is to assist in the standardising of these identified practices across all EU institutions,” said Ms O’Reilly.
Other important measures include allowing trainees to make formal complaints about harassment; regular training for confidential counsellors and the setting up of a pool of independent investigators, which institutions can draw upon during formal harassment investigations.
The Ombudsman notes harassment cases can involve a significant power imbalance and suggests stronger rules for high-ranking personnel. Examples of good practice include the European Court of Auditors’ anti-harassment policy, which has strong disciplinary measures for culpable members, such as compulsory retirement or denial of pension rights.
Ms O’Reilly’s overarching finding is that all EU personnel – regardless of their status – should be covered by anti-harassment policies, and that the protection extend to acts committed by all personnel, including high-ranking individuals.
“All workplaces can be affected by harassment; what sets a good workplace apart is whether it has a culture of zero tolerance towards harassment and whether staff are informed about their rights and empowered to act,” said Ms O’Reilly.
The Ombudsman will take these good practices into account in future when considering any complaints about how EU institutions have handled harassment issues.