25 March 2022 by Theto Mahlakoana

JOHANNESBURG – Are you the king or queen of office pranks? The office clown … perhaps a bulldozer or gossip that’s always pushing the envelope?

Well… whatever antics you’re known for in the workplace, you may need to stop now before you find yourself jobless and having to fork out in a civil suit.

A newly effected code of good practice on the prevention and elimination of harassment in the workplace empowers victims to act against all manner of workplace abuses including sarcasm, condescending language, and joking at someone else’s expense.

It removes any grey areas that may have existed in the past, detailing forms of physical, psychological, and sexual harassment as explicitly as possible to ensure workers are protected not just from their bosses but also from their colleagues.

The Department of Employment and Labour’s Director for Employment Equity Ntsoaki Mamashela explained: “Workplace bullying has become a new phenomenon where those that are in power abuse that power to terrorise and victimise employees.”

The cyber world is also being watched closely. According to the new code, you will be in trouble for online harassment whether on email or social networks and for those inappropriate memes or innuendos, too.


Last year South Africa became the 10th country in the world to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s Violence and Harassment Convention 190 with the new code of conduct making it among the first to implement the policies globally.

It replaced the 2005 code, which was limited in its scope. The new rules were in line with the international labour organisation’s convention 190 making the country compliant with international labour standards.

The progressive policy which moved South African workplaces several steps forward in preventing discriminatory practices spelt out various forms of harassment, including psychological abuse and cyberbullying – concepts that had not found expression in the labour policy in the past.

It also prohibited threats, shaming, hostile teasing, insults, constant negative judgment, and language that was racist, sexist, or LGBTQIA+ phobic.

The Department of Employment and Labour’s Director for Employment Equity Ntsoaki Mamashela said they were concerned about the level of harassment in workplaces.

“Workplace bullying has become a new phenomenon where people, those that are in power, terrorise employees that worked with them in such a way that they ended up having all different types of illnesses, especially psychological illnesses, depression and not being able to function to their full capacity in the workplace.”

According to the new code, employers were compelled to take action when employees reported harassment cases but workers also had the right to approach the CCMA or Labour Court and take up civil action simultaneously.

Source: EWN at