Sexual harassment in the workplace

Last updated: 09 Apr 2024

We are committed to using every tool at our disposal to protect members from sexual harassment at work.

According to UK law, sexual harassment is unwanted conduct or behaviour related to sex, or of a sexual nature, which has the purpose or effect of:

  • violating the other’s dignity, or
  • creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment.

The legal definition also encompasses less favourable treatment because of rejection (or submission) of unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or related to gender reassignment or sex.

The law can apply to one-off incidents, or to patterns of behaviour. We must not underestimate the cumulative effect a pattern of ‘low-level’, even unintentional, sexual harassment can have on the victim. At its worst, sexual harassment destroys careers, and damages mental health.

High-profile sexual harassment scandals, from Hollywood to Westminster, have raised questions about how workers can be protected. Trade unions have a unique role in solving the problem. Prospect offers a powerful combination of:

  • individual representation – providing expert support to victims of sexual harassment, both in their workplace and through legal proceedings
  • collective bargaining – using our experience and influence to shape better workplace policies and cultures
  • organising and campaigning – for awareness and better education of workers and employers, and for stronger laws to protect workers.

Support for members

Download Prospect‘s workplace guide to dealing with sexual harassment (PDF)

If you’re a Prospect member and you’re unsure whether a situation you’re experiencing classifies as harassment, please speak to your local representative or contact us.

Prospect members

Please call the Member Contact Centre on 0300 600 1878 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 7pm) or email [email protected].

Bectu members

Please call 0300 600 1878.

All enquiries will be treated with complete confidentiality.