Turning the tables on Sexual Harassment

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published a report, Turning the tables: ending sexual harassment at work report recommending steps to strengthen protection for victims of sexual harassment, promoting transparency and placing a legal duty on employers to take effective steps to prevent sexual harassment. The report has also recommended an increase in compensation levels for victims where this duty has been breached.

“Too many people are being silenced by toxic workplace cultures and very real fears of victimisation, and employers’ responses are inconsistent and, in many cases, risk being ineffective.”

The recommendations include placing a duty on employers to take reasonable steps to protect workers from harassment and victimisation not just by employed staff but extending to third parties as well, such as customers or suppliers.

It is proposed that the Government should develop a statutory code of practice for employers, which sets out the steps they should take to prevent and respond to harassment allegations. An uplift could be applied (similar to Unfair Dismissal cases where the Statutory ACAS code is breached) of up to 25%.

The Government was also called on to ban employers from using non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to protect their reputation in sexual harassment cases, and recommended that NDAs should only be used at the request of the victim and recommend conditions are attached (including provision of legal advice for the victim).

The EHRC’s report also recommended that:

  • data is collected every three years to determine how prevalent sexual harassment is, report the findings and develop and publish an action plan;
  • the employment tribunal deadline to bring a claim for sexual harassment is extended from three months to six months;
  • ACAS develops targeted sexual harassment training for managers, staff and workplace sexual harassment “champions”;
  • employers publish their sexual harassment policy and steps being taken to implement it on their websites so current and potential employees can see what is being done to address the issue, and
  • the Government develops an online tool to make harassment reporting easier.
    For further information please contact our Employment team.

Posted on 29/03/2018 by Emily Kidd