Did you know that the Government is considering introducing new laws aimed at tackling sexual harassment in the workplace?
The Government has launched a consultation on tackling and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace with a view to making changes to existing laws.
Key proposals in the consultation include
- Employers would have a mandatory duty to protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. This would be enforced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC and would require employers to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent harassment from occurring. At present, if an employer has taken ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent harassment this is a defence to a sex discrimination claim. However, currently, there is no legal duty to do so.
- A new statutory Code of Practice would be introduced which an Employment Tribunal would have to consider when presented with a harassment claim. If the employer has not complied with the code of practice a figure of 13 weeks’ pay might be awarded as a financial penalty.
- Employers would be required to provide renewed protection against 3rd party harassment for staff that deal with 3rd parties (customers, members of the public etc). Prior to 2013, an employer could be liable for harassment of a staff member by a third party such as a customer or client if the harassment had occurred on at least two previous occasions (the ‘3 strikes’ principle). This law was scrapped in 2013 and the consultation proposes bringing it back in some form. There is a question mark over whether one incident of harassment should be enough to trigger liability and whether the employer must actually know about the risk in advance.
- Victims of harassment may have longer to consider whether to bring an employment tribunal claim from 3 months to 6 months. Whilst the consultation is focussed on sexual harassment, it raises the question whether this time limit extension should apply to other forms of harassment such as race and disability.
How we can help
- It makes sound financial and reputational sense to be compliant. Reviewing your present position and planning for the future raises you above other competitors and increases your standing amongst staff, customers and investors alike: it helps you to attract the best people. Our team of experienced employment lawyers (all over 10 years qualified) have worked within businesses so know the importance of up-to-date policies and procedures.
- Let us help you take some of the strain to ensure that your business is compliant with the law and that you have solid anti-harassment policies and procedures in place.
- We can help you take active steps to embed a culture and ethos of sexual equality at your workplace by assisting you with staff training and awareness. Our only objective is to provide an excellent service with competitive fixed fees for all HR policies, advice and training enabling you to budget for all your business needs.
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