New alliance calls for law to make employers prevent sexual harassment

By agency reporter
June 27, 2019

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

TUC research found that more than half (52 per cent) of women – and nearly seven out of ten LGBT people – have experienced sexual harassment at work. However, under current law, there is no legal duty on employers to take proactive action to prevent harassment happening in their workplaces. Instead, the onus is on the victim of the sexual harassment to report it to their employer after it has happened.

Four out of five (79 per cent) women who have been sexually harassed at work do not feel able to report it to their employer – meaning harassment continues unchecked in workplaces across the UK.

With the government set to launch its consultation on tackling sexual harassment soon, the TUC alliance – backed by organisations including the Fawcett Society, Action Aid, Amnesty and Time’s Up – wants to see the law changed so employers have a legal duty to take preventative measures to ensure their workplaces are harassment-free.

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

This simple step would make a huge difference practically, says the alliance. It would mean that the burden of dealing with sexual harassment would be shifted from individuals to employers. This would change workplace cultures and help end the problem once and for all, says the TUC.

The TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s shocking that in 2019 so many people experience sexual harassment and assault while at work. The government must strengthen the law to put responsibility for preventing harassment on employers. This would shift the burden of tackling sexual harassment away from individuals. And it would help end toxic workplace cultures that silence those who’ve been harassed. We’re calling on everyone who want to stop sexual harassment at work to join us and call on ministers to take action.

* The alliance has launched a petition calling on the government to bring in the new law. It can be found here

* TUC https://www.tuc.org.uk/

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