The Women and Equalities Select Committee has published a report about sexual harassment in the workplace. The Committee found that sexual harassment at work is widespread and commonplace but there has been a failure by employers and regulators to tackle unlawful behaviours.
· 40% of women and 18% of men have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace
· Women aged 18-34 are most at risk of sexual harassment at work, with 43% having experienced it
according to a survey of UK adults that was carried out by the BBC.
The report calls on Government to put sexual harassment at the top of the agenda and sets out five priorities.
· Introduce a new duty on employers to prevent harassment, supported by a statutory code of practice outlining the steps they can take to do this; and ensuring that interns, volunteers and those harassed by third parties have access to the same legal protections and remedies as their workplace colleagues;
· Require regulators to take a more active role, starting by setting out the actions they will take to help tackle this problem, including the enforcement action they will take; and making it clear to those they regulate that sexual harassment is a breach of professional standards and a reportable offence with sanctions;
· Make enforcement processes work better for employees by setting out in the statutory code of practice what employers should do to tackle sexual harassment; and reducing barriers to taking forward tribunal cases, including by extending the time limit for submitting a claim, introducing punitive damages for employers and reducing cost risks for employees;
· Clean up the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), including by requiring the use of standard, plain English confidentiality clauses, which set out the meaning, limit and effect of the clause, and making it an offence to misuse such clauses; and extending whistleblowing protections so that disclosures to the police and regulators such as the EHRC are protected;
· Collect robust data on the extent of sexual harassment in the workplace and on the number of employment tribunal claims involving complaints of harassment of a sexual nature.
You can access links to the full report, a summary or the report conclusions here - https://bit.ly/2JRNbTs
ARAG policyholders who have registered to use our Business or Consumer Legal Services website can dip into our law guide to learn more about workplace harassment. The Employee handbook for Business customers sets out non-contractual matter and includes policies and procedures to minimise the risk of potential employee lawsuits, such as discrimination, harassment and unfair dismissal. www.araglegal.co.uk