Code of conduct introduced to prevent sexual harassment in Cyprus

By on 30/07/2018 | Updated on 27/01/2022
Cypriot civil servants are to be guided by a new code of conduct on sexual harassment.

Guidance on how to prevent and deal with sexual harassment in the Cypriot civil service has been published by the country’s ombudswoman.

The Commissioner for Administration for Protection of Human Rights (Ombudsman) is investigating eight sexual harassment cases pending since 2015, according to local news website

Ombudswoman Maria Lottides said that the courts had previously taken the government to task for failing to protect civil servants from harassment.

The code of conduct explains what constitutes such behaviour and gives instructions to employees on how to prevent it, and what to do if it takes place. It lists myths and stereotypes about harassment. It also lists the responsibilities of each authority, including how to prevent harassment, and how to provide support to a victim of harassment. Cases are to be dealt with discreetly, it states.

Legal responsibilities

There are both unofficial and formal ways to investigate such claims, the code notes, with the informal process aimed at addressing improper behaviour before it spirals into sexual harassment.

“Each supervisor, each competent authority and the public administration in general must know that harassment and sexual harassment at the workplace constitute gender discrimination forbidden by law, and that they have the legal responsibility to ensure a safe, dignified, healthy and friendly work environment,” Lottides said.

If employers do not take action, they are jointly responsible for the harassment with the perpetrator, she added.

Protecting women protects organisations

The chairperson of the Gender Equality and Vocational Training Committee, Luiza Zannetou Christodoulidou, said that employers have an obligation to take preventive and punitive measures as soon as they are aware of any harassment. She pointed out that the Republic of Cyprus has previously had to pay compensation for the action of an employee, due to its failure to inform its staff that such behaviour was not acceptable. “It is these gaps that the code will cover,” Christodoulidou added.

Speaking at the launch of the code, labour minister Zeta Emilianidou said that she would promote the code of conduct and asked all authorities to apply it. “It is a very important tool, because for the first time all necessary actions are being provided for anyone to be able to know how to act,” she said.

She added that harassment at work is a disciplinary offence, and that no one should tolerate such behaviour.

The Ombudsman is also preparing a code of conduct for the private sector.

About Catherine Early

Catherine is a journalist and editor specialising in government policy and regulation. She writes predominantly about environmental issues and has held permanent roles at the Environmentalist (now known as Transform), the ENDS Report, Planning magazine and Windpower Monthly, and has also written for the Guardian, the Ecologist and China Dialogue. She was a finalist in the Guardian’s International Development Journalism competition 2009, and was part of the team that won PPA Business Magazine of the Year 2011 for Windpower Monthly. She also won an outstanding content award at Haymarket Media Group’s employee awards for data-led stories in Planning magazine. She holds a 2:1 honours degree in English language and literature from Birmingham University.

One Comment

  1. Concerned individual says:

    Just curious why it’s being stated in the article ” Protecting women protects organisations” Is this not a non gender code of conduct? Is your bolded paragraph statement trying to subconsciously indicate that only women are affected by harassment? I would think that all harassment whether it be done to women or a man is important to deal with. I understand that if some or all of the cases which are pending are related to women does not preclude the requirement to have a policy which affects all.

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