In its 108th session, the General Conference of the International Labor Organization (ILO) issued the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (C190, June 21, 2019). This convention equates violence with harassment, providing them with equal status, and extends their scope beyond employees to other people, such as trainees, interns, apprentices, former employees, volunteers, job seekers, and other workers.

The convention stipulates that harassment can be a single occurrence or repeated action. It is not necessary that such conduct or behavior actually result in physical, psychological, sexual, or economic harm. It is enough that it is likely to cause it.

This is a wider definition than that used in the applicable Colombian labor law. In Colombia, labor harassment is regulated in The Work Harassment Law 1010 of 2006. This regulation defines “harassment” as any “persistent and demonstrable” behavior, exercised on an employee by an employer, a boss, or immediate or senior manager, or a coworker or a subordinate, aimed at instilling fear, intimidation, terror, and anguish, to cause work injury, generate demotivation at work, or induce the resignation of the same.

In particular, Colombian labor law does not equate harassment with violence, and requires that the behavior must be persistent, be demonstrable, and have caused harm to the alleged victim in order to meet the definition of “harassment.”

Colombia is committed to ratify the ILO Convention and will need to adopt the wider definitions set by the ILO.


Employers may want to adjust their internal policies, regulations, and agreements to comply with these changes and ensure they cover employees, trainees, applicants, and all members of their supply process. The Ministry of Labour may impose fines on harassers and prosecute them.

Written by Carolina Camacho of Posse Herrera Ruiz and Roger James of Ogletree Deakins

© 2019 Posse Herrera Ruiz and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and Stewart, P.C.