How to keep yourself safe in the workplace

Posed photo of workplace bullying, with colleagues talking behind the back of another colleague.
Posed photo of workplace bullying, with colleagues talking behind the back of another colleague.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Avoid going alone to places where you feel unsafe, keep away from colleagues who harass you and be familiar with your company's reporting procedures.

These are some steps employees can take to help tackle workplace harassment, according to an advisory released by the Manpower Ministry, the Singapore National Employers Federation and the National Trades Union Congress yesterday.

Victims can also seek legal redress under the Protection from Harassment Act, which came into force in November last year, if they are being stalked or threatened with violence, for instance. Remedies under the Act include protection orders.

For a start, employers can make clear to employees their stand against such harassment. It is also important that employees know whom they can approach to discuss and address the issue, said a spokesman for the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices.

Still, everyone should take charge of his personal safety, health and well-being at the workplace, reminded the tripartite advisory.

"You should take all reasonable steps to protect yourself and keep away from potential harassment situations," it said.

Victims can choose to deal with the harassment on their own or seek the help of a trusted colleague or friend.

For instance, they can firmly tell the perpetrator to stop or keep a record of evidence such as photographs, screenshots and audio recordings.

They can also report the case to their company or approach organisations such as Aware, the Community Justice Centre or the Trauma Recovery and Corporate Solutions department at Changi General Hospital.

Women's group Aware urged victims to come forward, noting that the "majority of cases go unreported".

"Most will not want to report because they are afraid of reprisals, negative publicity, are not aware of their rights nor the proper channels for reporting, or do not think that reporting will solve the problem," said its executive director Corinna Lim.

For more information, log on to the ministry's website to get a copy of the new guidelines.

Aw Cheng Wei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2015, with the headline 'How to keep yourself safe in the workplace'. Print Edition | Subscribe