Minority Front Notice 1 of May 2018:
The Leader of the Minority Front, for the purpose of preventing and addressing cases of Gender-based Violence (as defined in (Section 1.6) hereof) in any form, whether as an act of workplace violence or as occurs in any staff, members or campaigners personal life, promulgates the following Minority Front Workplace Policy on Gender Based Violence (MFWPGBV) policy.
Gender-based Violence, including domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, jeopardises the lives and safety of countless people. It ranges from offensive or threatening language to homicide, and often results in serious injuries, disability or death. Regardless of where it occurs, Gender-based Violence violates its victims’ human rights.
When it impacts the workplace, it compromises the safety of both the victim and the victim’s co-workers and can result in lost productivity, increased health care costs and increased Staff turnover. The Minority Front, as a Political Party, is committed to full compliance with all applicable laws governing Gender-Based Violence, to providing a workplace in which staff and members or campaigners who are victims have the support they need at work to address the violence in their lives, and to promoting their health and safety. The Minority Front Leader promulgates the MFWPGBV policy as follows:
For the purpose of this Policy, the following terms are defined as follows:
1.1. Abuser: means a person who perpetrates Gender-based Violence.
1.2. Domestic Violence: can be committed between people regardless of race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, economic status, educational level or religious belief, whether they are living together or separately, are married or unmarried, or in short-term or long-term relationships. It includes, but is not limited to, physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring among Family Members or between Intimate Partners, including battering, sexual or physical abuse of children, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other practices harmful to women, economic coercion, violence related to exploitation, or other forms of physical, sexual, psychological or economic abuse.
1.3. Employees/Workers: applies to individuals employed on a permanent or temporary basis, paid or unpaid, all personnel of the MF campaigns, members and elected public representatives.
1.4. Family Members: includes, but is not limited to, members of the Victim’s extended family, by blood or marriage, including the Victim’s parents, children, dependents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents-in-law, siblings, spouses and children, and other members of a shared household.
1.5. Gender-based Violence means:
(a) Physical, psychological, mental, economic or sexual harm or suffering, coercion and other deprivations of liberty (including incidents of Domestic Violence, sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking, but not including acts of self-defense) that are directed against a person based on gender and committed, attempted or threatened (i) by or against Employees, and/or (ii) against Employees’ families or property; and
(b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, stalking, trafficking in women, forced prostitution, and sexual harassment or intimidation at work, educational institutions and elsewhere.
1.6. Violence Against Women in Politics (VAWIP): (Source: Model Law)
(a) “Political violence against women” means any action, conduct or omission carried out directly or through third parties that, based on their gender, causes harm or suffering to one or more women, and has as its objective or result the impairment or negation of the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of their political rights. Political violence against women can include, among other aspects, physical, sexual, psychological, moral, economic or symbolic violence.
1.7. Political Harassment (PH): (Source: Model Law)
(a) Political harassment is understood as pressure, impediment, restrictions or bullying of a female or male candidate during or after an electoral process.
1.8. Intimate Partners: mean (i) persons legally married to one another, (ii) persons formerly married to one another, (iii) persons who have a child in common, regardless of whether such persons are married or have lived together at any time, (iv) couples who live together or have lived together, or (v) persons who are dating or who have dated in the past. The definition of Intimate Partners includes same sex couples.
1.9. Organization: is the Minority Front entity adopting the Policy.
1.10. Policy: has the definition set forth in the first paragraph of this document.
1.11. Protection Order: means an order of protection, restraining order or other court order in response to Gender-Based Violence(GBV), which serves as a mechanism through which a Victim can petition a national or other appropriate court or tribunal for protection from an Abuser, to establish custody and visitation guidelines for a child or children, or to establish forms of economic security (such as rent or mortgage payments). Protection Orders may also be issued in criminal cases as a condition of probation or release, particularly in a crime involving Domestic Violence, sexual violence, dating violence or stalking.
1.12. Safety Plan has the meaning set forth in Section 1.10.
1.13. Safety Planning: means the process through which a representative/s of the party, namely the Party whip, secretary and Human Resource Manager (HRM) and councillors work with a Victim to facilitate development of a safety and Support plan (Safety Plan), designed to reduce the risk of Gender-based Violence to the Victim and ensure the safety of the Victim’s co-workers.
1.14. Victim means an Employee, Member or Campaigner against whom an Abuser directs Gender-based Violence.
Scope of Application
2.1. The Policy shall apply to all Employees, elected members, Non-elected members and campaigners of the MF.
Non-Discriminatory and Responsive Policies to Assist Victims of Gender-Based Violence for all categories of persons in Section 2.
3.1. Non-discrimination and Non-retaliation
The Party shall not discriminate in hiring, staffing or other terms and conditions of employment against any person (i) for disclosing his or her status as a victim of Gender-based Violence, (ii) because such person is perceived as a victim of Gender-based Violence, or (iii) because such person has submitted a complaint or disclosed concerns about Gender-based Violence to the Party.
The Party shall not retaliate or take punitive employment actions against any Employee for submitting a complaint pursuant to this Policy, for disclosing his or her status as a Victim, or for acts of Gender-based Violence against such Employee that occur in or have an impact on the workplace. This Section shall not preclude the Party from taking adverse action against an Employee (i) who perpetrates Gender-based Violence (whether within or outside the workplace), or (ii) for Performance-related concerns, as provided in Section 3.4 below.
3.2. Safety Planning
The Party will make every reasonable effort to collaborate with a Victim to develop a Safety Plan. The Safety Plan should recognise and encourage workplace modifications designed to reduce the risk of harm and increase security measures. Such security measures may include making the Abuser’s identity known to security personnel, changing locks, modifying work schedules, changing workplace locations, arranging telecommuting options or other measures tailored to an individual’s circumstances that are designed to increase safety. The Party also may convene a multi-disciplinary task force with representatives from relevant sections within the Party, including human resources and security, to be prepared to respond in the event of an emergency.
The Party will make reasonable efforts to assist the Victim in enforcing his or her Protection Order within the workplace, to the extent feasible and applicable. In all instances, when assessing safety risks associated with Gender-based Violence, the Party will defer, whenever reasonably possible, to the Victim’s judgement about steps that pose a safety risk to the Victim and the Victim’s workplace, and those that increase safety and support for the Victim and the workplace.
3.3. Leave and Other Workplace Policies
The Party recognises that Employees, Members and Campaigners may need time off to secure medical assistance, legal assistance, counselling or to attend to other matters related to the Gender-based Violence for themselves or for a Family Member, such as court proceedings, relocation or Safety Planning. The Party will make every reasonable effort to assist an Employee/Worker in maintaining employment when the Employee is experiencing or has experienced Gender-based Violence or is assisting a Family Member who has experienced Gender-based Violence.
The Party will work to provide reasonable and flexible leave options when an Employee, or a child, spouse, parent or parent-in-law of an Employee is a victim of Gender-based Violence. The Party will make every reasonable effort to first provide paid leave before requiring an Employee to utilise unpaid leave. When the need for time off is foreseeable, an Employee must provide reasonable advance notice to the Party unless advance notice is not feasible. To request leave, an Employee should contact the Party’s Domestic Violence designee or other designated authority.
The Party will, to the best of its ability, make available a list of community- based resources for Victims, and will make every reasonable effort to refer Victims to appropriate specialists who can offer assistance with respect to Safety Planning, counselling, and advice in identifying legal and other options.
3.5. Work Performance
The Party recognizes that Victims may experience temporary difficulty fulfilling job responsibilities. If the Party becomes aware that an Employee’s work performance or conduct has been negatively affected by Gender-based Violence, the Party will offer support to the Victim and cooperate with the Victim to address the issues, which may include the development of a Safety Plan. The Party will make all reasonable efforts to consider all aspects of the Victim’s situation in evaluating performance issues, which may result from the Victim’s experience with Gender-based Violence. If reasonable attempts to resolve the Victim’s performance-related issues are unsuccessful, the Party may take action as identified in the established human resources procedures of the Party.
3.6. Protection Orders
The Party recognizes that a Victim may seek and/or be granted a Protection Order as part of his or her efforts to seek safety, and that this Protection Order may be part of his or her Safety Plan. The Party recognizes that the workplace may or may not be included on a Protection Order as a location that is off-limits to the Abuser.
If a Victim chooses to disclose the existence of such a Protection Order to the Party, the Party may, to the extent possible, assist the Victim in enforcing his or her Protection Order. The Party shall archive its copy of the Protection Order in a confidential and separate file from the Victim’s personnel file, in conformance with Section 3.6 below.
If applicable, the Party may assist the Victim in gathering documentation from the workplace, such as e-mails or voice messages, which could support the Victim’s efforts in a justice system or otherwise in obtaining or maintaining safety.
Information related to an Employee/Worker, Member or Campaigner being a Victim would be kept confidential to the extent permissible by law and Party policy. Such information would be kept in a confidential and separate file from the Employee’s personnel file. This information would not be divulged without the consent of the Victim unless the Party reasonably determines that maintaining the Victim’s confidentiality puts the Victim or other Employees/Members/Campaigners at risk of physical harm, is required by law, is deemed necessary to enforce a Protection Order or a Safety Plan, or is necessary for the administration of the Party. The information would be released to other individuals or sections only on a need-to-know basis, to the extent reasonably necessary to protect the safety of the Victim or others, and with advance notice being given to the Victim, whenever possible.
Accountability for Employees/Workers, Members and Campaigners Concerned about Violence and Persons Who Are Offenders
4.1. Employee/Members Alert of Potential Acts of Gender-based Violence
In the event Employees/Members suspect or witness acts of Gender-based Violence in the workplace, or suspect or witness Gender-based Violence being perpetrated either against an Employee/Member or by an Employee/Member, they should first talk to the perceived victim, express concern and ask what can be done to help; they should alert the perceived victim that they will disclose the concern to a Party Whip or Party Secretary, and then should report the concern to the Human Resource Manager.
4.2. Non-retaliation for Reporting Gender-based Violence
The Party shall not retaliate against, terminate or discipline any Employee/Worker for reporting good faith concerns about workplace-related incidents of Gender-based Violence pursuant to this Policy, including an allegation that the act was perpetrated by a fellow Employee or person in a management capacity or member. Prohibited acts of retaliation include, but are not limited to, demotion or withholding of earned pay, as well as, acts of personal retaliation. Any Employee who believes he or she has been subjected to adverse action for making a report pursuant to this Policy should contact the designate authority within the Party. Any allegations of violations of this Policy will be promptly investigated by such designated authority.
4.3. Prohibited Use of Workplace Resources
Employees/Members are prohibited from using any workplace resources, such as work time, phones, e-mail, computers, fax machines or other means to threaten, harass, intimidate, embarrass or otherwise harm another person. An Employee / Member is considered to be in the workplace while in, or utilizing the resources of the Party, including but not limited to facilities, work sites, equipment, or vehicles, or while on work-related travel.
4.4. Disclosure of Final Court Orders and Gender-based Violence
An Employee who is subject to a final court order, or who has been convicted in a criminal or civil action as a result of a threat or act of Gender-Based Violence, must disclose the existence of the final court order to his or her supervisor or other appropriate person within the Party. Failure to disclose the existence of such a final court order in these circumstances may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination. If a Human Resource Manager or Party Secretary becomes aware (through Employee/Member self-disclosure, reports by a third party or any other means) that an Employee/Member may have committed an act of Gender-based Violence, the authorised person shall conduct, or refer the matter to any other designated authority within the Party to conduct, appropriate investigations, interventions and referrals. The designated authority shall investigate immediately and shall take disciplinary action, up to and including termination, against any Employee/Member who threatens to commit, who commits or has committed incidents of Gender-Based Violence. In the event an Employee/Member discloses to an appropriate authority within The Party that he or she has committed an act of Gender-Based Violence, the Party will make best efforts to take more reasonable disciplinary actions and to provide appropriate references (medical or otherwise, as appropriate) to assist the Employee/Member.
4.5. Applicability of Notice on Prohibition of Discrimination, Harassment and Abuse of Power
The procedures set out in Section 5, Corrective Measures, of the Minority Front Notice on MFWPGBV Policy on Prohibition of Discrimination, Harassment and Abuse of Power, including Sexual Harassment will apply to the extent possible.
5.1. Awareness Programs
The Party shall conduct regular and mandatory awareness programs for all Employees/Members to raise awareness of the ways Gender-based Violence may impact the workplace, for all Employees/Members to take all reasonable measures to create a harmonious working environment, which is free from intimidation, hostility, offense and any form of violence, and to encourage Victims to seek assistance in negotiating abuse through Safety Planning. Training will include information on the physical, social and cultural realities that may affect Victims of Gender-based Violence; the ways in which such violence impacts the workplace, including the potential impact on worker productivity and safety risks; and the steps that all Employees/Members can take to reduce the risk of violence and to support Victims.
5.2. Management Training
Other programs will be offered, including targeted training for administrations managers and senior party members, completion of which will be a requirement for advancement to successive levels of responsibility.
5.3. Provision of Policy and Training to All Employees/Members
The Leader; Party Secretary (PS) and Human Resources Manager (HRM), shall ensure that all Employees/Members for whom they are responsible are provided with a copy of this Policy and shall ensure receipt of a signed acknowledgement from all recipients. Such acknowledging receipt shall be placed in the employees/ members official status file. The Leader of the Party and HRM shall also ensure that Employees/Members undertake the required training outlined in Section 5.0.
5.4. Familiarisation with Policy
Employees/ members are responsible for familiarising themselves with the Policy and with the various options and internal channels available for addressing such conduct.
Employees/Members are also reminded of the policy has been to introduced to protect against retaliation for reporting misconduct and for cooperating with duly authorised audits or investigations.
5.5. Emergency Contact
In an event of imminent threat of Gender-based Violence, Employees/Members should contact the head of the Minority Front Risk Management Team (MFRMT) to assist.
This is made up of the authorised personnel and party members, where contact details will be made available, as and when changes occur.
Duties of Employees and Members
6.1. Duty to Create Appropriate Environment The Party Secretary and Whip shall be responsible for creating and maintaining an environment that prevents Gender-Based Violence and shall take appropriate measures for this purpose. In particular and in conformance with Section 5.2 of this Policy, the Party Secretary, through the Constituency Office shall inform Employees/Members of the contents of the Policy and ascertain that each Employee/ Member receives a copy thereof. In order to resolve problems related to instances of Gender-Based Violence, the Human Resource Manager (HRM) and Party Secretary (PS) shall maintain open channels of communication and ensure that Employees/Members respectively, who wish to raise their concerns in good faith can do so freely and without fear of adverse consequences.
6.2. Duty of Action for Policy Violations
The Party Secretary and HRM, as appropriate, shall be responsible for taking appropriate action in cases in which there is reason to believe that any of the standards listed in this Policy have been violated or any prohibited behavior has occurred.
6.3. Duty to Report Investigations of Gender-based Violence
The Party Secretary or HRM, as appropriate, shall promptly inform the appropriate designated authorities about investigations into cases of Gender-based Violence, and of the action taken as a result of such investigations. Failure to take action may be considered a breach of duty and result in administrative action and/or disciplinary proceedings.
Referral to External Authorities
7.1. If, after proper investigation, there is evidence to support allegations of Gender-Based Violence, these cases may, upon consultation with the Party Legal Advisor, be referred to Provincial or national authorities for criminal prosecution.
Adoption and Entry into Force
8.1. Adopted: by the National Executive Committee of the Minority Front on the 15th Day of April 2018.
Commencement: The MFWPGBV will be in force from the 01st May 2018.
Party Leader: Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi