New alliance sets priorities for preventing sexual harassment


New alliance calls on government to make employers prevent sexual harassment

More than 20 unions, charities and women’s rights organisations have come together to campaign for a new law to make employers responsible for protecting their staff from sexual harassment at work

The alliance – called This Is Not Working – is 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
  • hold mandatory training for managers and employees so they know 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 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.

It 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 has launched a petition and is asking everyone who wants to stop sexual harassment at work to sign it.

Research carried out by the Trades Union Congress found that more than half (52%) of women – and nearly seven out of ten LGBT people – had experienced sexual harassment at work.

But 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.

But four out of five (79%) women who have been sexually harassed at work do not feel able to report it to their employer.

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

Download Prospect’s workplace guide to dealing with sexual harassment here.

  • 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.