Call for new law on sexual harassment

31 Jul 2019

Prospect has joined more than 20 unions, charities and women’s rights organisations to campaign for a new law to make employers responsible for protecting their staff from sexual harassment at work.

The campaigners are asking the government to bring in a new, easily enforceable legal duty requiring employers to take all reasonable steps to protect workers from sexual harassment and victimisation.

The duty would be underpinned by a new code of practice explaining exactly what steps employers need to take to prevent sexual harassment, including:

  • strengthen and enforce a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment
  • mandatory training for managers and employees on what sexual harassment is, what their rights are and how to report these experiences to the company
  • establish a clear reporting system when employees experience sexual harassment that includes prompt investigation of their claims
  • protect workers from further harassment after they report these experiences
  • respect workers’ right to organise in their workplace.

The alliance – called This Is Not Working – is also calling for a review into the time limit to bring complaints and to extend the rights of employment tribunals to make wider recommendations for the workplace in sexual harassment cases.

It says this simple change in the law would shift the burden of dealing with sexual harassment from individuals to employers, change workplace cultures and help end the problem once and for all.

The alliance has launched a petition – please ask your colleagues, friends and family to sign it: www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/uk-gov-act-to-prevent-sexual-harassment-at-work

Further reading

www.tuc.org.uk/thisisnotworking

The campaign is timed to coincide with a planned government consultation on the issue.

On 21 June, the International Labour Organisation agreed to a treaty on violence and harassment which will require ILO members, including the UK, to take action to safeguard people from sexual harassment in the workplace.

Prospect’s workplace guide to dealing with sexual harassment.