Mutual Respect Policy


The ETF is opposed to any form of discrimination based on gender, nationality, race or colour, age, sexual orientation, disability or belief.

As trade unionists, we advocate respect and dignity to all individuals and recognise each individual’s right to have an opinion. As such, we will ensure each person feels confident to speak candidly – in an honest or direct way – without fear of reprisal.

The ETF is committed to promoting a work environment based on dignity and mutual respect and along with our affiliates we operate a zero tolerance policy toward those who seek to undermine another’s self-esteem or dignity, or those who threaten to create/condone a hostile, offensive or abusive work environment. This commitment applies to all participants and delegates in ETF meetings, activities and social gatherings wherever they take place around Europe.

As an employer, the ETF has a moral and a legal duty to protect employees from any forms of harassment, abuse – verbal or physical – or similarly unacceptable behaviour; this applies equally to any ETF meetings wherever they are held, and to the working environment in the Brussels office. All social and work-related functions assume liability of the ETF as employer, and any such incidents should be submitted in writing to trigger an investigation into the matter.

An appropriate member of staff will be designated to this purpose.

It is a recommendation that the Secretariat should provide guidelines and expectations for all affiliates members who may attend any ETF organised meeting/function on the understanding that they are obliged to comply.

Guidelines on the ETF Policy on Mutual Respect

What we ask of you:

  • To treat everybody, including delegates from ETF affiliates and ETF members of staff with dignity and respect.
  • To ensure your behaviour does not cause offence or misunderstanding.
  • To think before you make personal remarks.
  • To challenge all forms of offensive and unacceptable behaviour
  • To uphold the principles of maintaining dignity and respect within your environment.

What is unacceptable behaviour?

This includes unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct; also using social media as a means to undermine, intimidate, harass or abuse.

Discrimination against people of protected characteristics will be deemed to be classed as unacceptable behaviour if the focus is on:

  • Race, ethnic origin
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy & maternity
  • Religion or belief

This may include such unacceptable behaviour as, but not limited to:

  • Unwanted physical contact
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Sexual innuendo
  • Offensive language, insults and obscene gestures
  • Unwelcome gifts
  • Invading personal space, and/or stalking

The ETF strives to ensure all delegates/attendees and affiliates leave any ETF associated function having had the opportunity to interact, to offer their opinion and to have enjoyed a positive experience.

Recommendations on the use of e-mails

Electronic communications can be harmful to people, and we should bear in mind particular areas of concern. Offensive, derogatory and discriminatory e-mails pertaining to the protected characteristics of people, equally pornographic content will be deemed as unacceptable behaviour and should be reported in writing or forwarded to an appropriate manager.

Guidance on writing e-mails

  • Do not write in capitals: IT APPEARS AS IF YOU ARE SHOUTING. It may trigger an unwanted irate response.
  • Do not copy a message or an attachment without permission – you may be infringing on copyright laws.
  • Do not e-mail or send sensitive information. You must ensure protection of personal information and data in line with relevant legislation.
  • Do not send or forward e-mails containing libellous, defamatory, offensive, racist or obscene remarks. Even if they are meant to be a joke, you or the union may face prosecution.

Recommendations on the use of Social Media Platforms

  • Do not use to post any offensive, abusive or derogatory comments, or ‘share’ any of the same in relation to the protected characteristics of people. This includes reference to pornographic or obscene language or images.
  • Sensitive or confidential information should not be placed into the public domain.
  • In any case, you should not post or share any such information without the originators express permission.
  • As a tool, social media can be used positively to strengthen solidarity and raise awareness of the work and campaigns undertaken on a daily basis by the ETF. To this end, we should promote the use of social media to all of our affiliates.

Please ensure that usage of all social media platforms conform to legislation.

Adopted by the ETF Executive Committee on 10 May 2019