Costa Rica last week adopted the ground-breaking global treaty by the International Labour Organization (ILO) that recommends public and private employers provide protection for victims of domestic violence in the workplace, against being fired.

Evey day, in Costa Rica, 911 receives 268 calls of domestic violence. Image:

The ground-breaking global treaty on June 21, 2019  by the ILO recommends implementing a leave of absence, flexible work arrangements and the inclusion of domestic violence in the evaluation of risks in the workplace.

From the ILO, “governments that ratify the treaty will be required to develop national laws prohibiting workplace violence and to take preventive measures, such as information campaigns and requiring companies to have workplace policies on violence.”

The treaty also obligates governments to monitor the issue and provide access to remedies through complaint mechanisms, witness protection measures, and victim services, and to provide measures to protect victims and whistleblowers from retaliation.

The ILO convention covers workers, trainees, workers whose employment has been terminated, job seekers, and others, and applies to both formal and informal sectors. It also accounts for violence and harassment involving third parties, such as clients, customers, or service providers.

The adoption of the ILO convention worries the business sector.

The Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado (Uccaep) – Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of the Private Business Sector – considers that it could generate multiple erroneous interpretations, that it (the ILO convention) is an ambiguous text and that they were never consulted.

The Convention called “Violence and harassment in the world of work” was accepted by several countries, including Costa Rica, was adopted by delegates on the final day of the Centenary International Labour Conference, in Geneva, last week. The agreement establishes a relationship between domestic violence and the work environment.

It was signed by the Minister of Labor, Steven Núñez; the vice president Marvin Rodríguez, and, on the trade union side, the general secretary of the Confederación de Trabajadores Rerum Novarum (CTRN), Mario Rojas Vílchez.

Meanwhile, the executive director of the UCCAEP, Fabio Masís, voted against it as “an obstacle”.

For Gonzalo Delgado, president of the nión de Cámaras, Costa Rica always ratifies the agreements with the ILO “without questioning the effects they may have on competitiveness and companies.”

“The concern is that historically all agreements with the ILO have been ratified and have become legal obligations for companies, have been applied to the letter. Basically what is generating is an uncertainty of the regulations that the company-employee relationship can have in the medium term; they are being charged with the responsibility of avoiding domestic violence in the companies when there is no possibility of doing so legally,” said Delgado.

Every day the 911 emergency service says it answers some 268 calls of domestic violence.

Read here the treaty. Visit the ILO website.