Employment news

Government consults on sexual harassment protections

The Government Equalities Office has published a consultation paper that explores the existing protections for workers in relation to sexual harassment and how these protections could potentially be strengthened.

This is a response to a series of high profile inquiries into workplace sexual harassment by the Women and Equalities Committee in to sexual harassment n the workplace and into the use of non-disclosure agreements in discrimination cases.

The consultation paper, which has a closing date of 2 October 2019 asks for views on the introduction of a mandatory duty on employers to protect workers from harassment and victimisation in the workplace, enforceable both by individuals and the EHRC, and breach of which could potentially lead to a financial penalty; how best to strengthen and clarify the laws in relation to third party harassment; extending employment tribunal time limits in the Equality Act from the existing 3 months; whether interns are adequately protected by the Equality Act; extending the protections of the Equality Act to volunteers; and the need for non-legislative interventions to prevent sexual harassment or, where it has occurred, to stop it from happening again.

The paper also confirms that work is underway to introduce a statutory Code of Practice on sexual harassment and harassment at work on which there will be separate consultation.

An online questionnaire is available, particularly for those who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or associated issues such as sex discrimination, including those who work as volunteers or interns.