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Home >> Members >> Members’ Publications >> United Kingdom: Employers’ Guide on Dealing with Sexual Harassment

United Kingdom: Employers’ Guide on Dealing with Sexual Harassment

December 19th 2017

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published “Sexual harassment and the law: Guidance for employers.” Experiencing sexual harassment is one of the most difficult situations a person can face in the workplace. No workplace is immune to sexual harassment and a lack of reported cases does not necessarily mean that they have not occurred. Recent high-profile testimonies and sharing of experiences on social media have highlighted sexual harassment in a range of workplaces, and the real barriers that many experience in reporting it.

Sexual harassment occurs when an individual engages in unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature. It has the purpose or effect of:

  • violating someone’s dignity;
  • creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the individual concerned.

Employers are responsible for ensuring that employees do not face harassment in their workplace. They have a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to protect their employees and will be legally liable if they fail to do so. The EHRC has asked large employers across Great Britain to provide evidence about what safeguards they have in place to prevent sexual harassment, what steps they have taken to ensure that all employees are able to report instances of harassment and how they plan to prevent harassment in the future. The EHRC are also asking individuals who have experienced, witnessed or supported others with workplace sexual harassment, to let them know what they think might have helped in their case and what changes they think need to be made to tackle this issue. See more about the survey here.

The evidence provided will be used to understand what steps employers are taking to ensure that their workplaces are free from sexual harassment. They also want to find out if staff feel able to report sexual harassment without fear of victimisation and are confident that investigations will be conducted appropriately. They will report in early 2018, highlighting best practice and proposing recommendations for reform.

Practical guidance for employers

In support for employers, the EHRC’s guide to Sexual harassment and the law: guidance for employers is available on their website for download. It includes:

  • Definition and examples of what sexual harassment is
  • Responsibilities as an employer
  • What a sexual harassment policy should include
  • How to put the policy into practice
  • How to handle sexual harassment complaints
  • Criminal behaviour

For more information, please visit their website.