Date: 11th Oct 2018 By: Matthew Smith length: 10 Minutes Tags: Legal Services
A change in workplace culture, greater transparency about incidents of harassment and new laws to strengthen protection for victims are recommendations recently announced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to tackle the problem of sexual harassment at work.
The EHRC found that the most common complaint was harassment by a senior colleague and that many individuals had not reported the harassment, which is of concern. The barriers for reporting were concerns that the employer did not take the issue seriously, a belief that alleged perpetrators (particularly senior staff) would be protected, a fear of victimisation and a lack of appropriate reporting procedures. According to the EHRC, “Corrosive working cultures have silenced the voices of victims and normalised sexual harassment”. In its report, ‘Turning the tables - Ending sexual harassment at work’ (published on 27 March) the EHRC made a number of recommendations to better protect people at work:
A change in workplace culture
Employers are vicariously liable for their employees’ acts of harassment which take place during the course of employment (including conduct at work social events) whether or not the actions were done with the employer’s approval or knowledge. A harassment claim can be defended however if the employer can show that it took all reasonable steps to prevent the employee from carrying out the acts. This includes, for instance, taking a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment, having effective policies and procedures in place, providing training where required and responding appropriately to complaints. The good news for employers is that extensive guidance published over the past few months by ACAS, the EHRC and the TUC will help employers understand their obligations in regard to sexual harassment and what to do if a complaint is made.
Author: Matthew Smith, Partner at Blake Morgan LLP. Blake Morgan LLP are a framework supplier on all lots for the Legal Services framework with the exception of Lot 4 (Northern Ireland), Lot 7 (Scotland), Lot 13 (Channel Islands) and Lot 14 (National One-Stop-Shop).
This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.