Employment news

Campaign calls for law to make employers responsible for preventing sexual harassment at work

Trade unions, women’s rights organisations and charities have launched a joint campaign to persuade the government to introduce a new law to make employers responsible for protecting their staff from sexual harassment at work.

‘This Is Not Working’ has been launched after TUC research had found that 52% of women have experienced sexual harassment at work, and 79% who have been sexually harassed did not feel able to report it to their employer.

Under current legislation there is no legal duty on employers to take proactive action to prevent harassment taking place – the onus is on the victim to report it to their employer after it has happened.

At a time when the government is reported soon to be launching consultation on tackling sexual harassment, the TUC alliance – bringing together some twenty organisations including The Fawcett Society, Action Aid, Amnesty International, Business in the Community and the Young Women’s Trust – is calling for the law to be changed so that employers have a legal duty to take preventative measures.

The new duty would be supported by a code of practice outlining what steps employers need to take to prevent sexual harassment, such as mandatory training for staff and managers and having clear policies.

The Alliance is also looking to the recent treaty adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), establishing a global set of standards to prevent, identify and address cases of gender-based harassment and violence at work. This requires member states to develop national laws to prohibit workplace violence and provide protection measures and victim services to combat potential retaliation. It would also protect against harassment from third parties such as customers.