Calls grow to bring back protection from sexual harassment by third parties
The Fawcett Society has called on the Government to bring back the protections for employees provided under section 40 of the Equality Act 2010, which was repealed in 2013. The Society suggests that employers should be held responsible for sexual harassment by third parties, such as customers and contractors, if they become aware of a previous incident of harassment and fail to take reasonable steps to prevent it from happening again. As the law stands, employers can be found vicariously liable for harassment carried out by an employee, but there are currently no statutory grounds to find an employer liable for the behaviours of a third party in the workplace.
Similar recommendations to protect workers and volunteers who suffer sexual harassment from customers, guests and visitors while working in varied environments have also been put to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee. Proposals included mandatory workplace risk assessments to safeguard against sexual harassment, manager training to change work cultures and encourage reporting of harassment, and extending the time limit for lodging a claim to at least six months.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also issued letters and guidance on sexual harassment at work to all FTSE companies and other large employers, demanding evidence of the steps these organisations are taking to prevent sexual harassment at work.