The Equality and Human Rights Commission (“EHRC”) has published new guidance on sexual harassment and harassment in the workplace. It builds on EHRC’s 2018 report “Turning the Tables” which described the scale of the problem in the workplace, with three quarters of the people that responded to the call for evidence having experienced sexual harassment, most of whom were women.
The guidance sets out legal explanations and practical examples of how harassment at work can be addressed. It is a clear reminder that employers are liable for harassment or victimisation committed by its workers unless they can show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent such behaviour. The guidance recommends that employers take a number of steps to address harassment, including:
- Develop effective anti-harassment policies and procedures. Such policies must be monitored and their success regularly reviewed.
- Engage their staff and be proactive in ensuring awareness of what is happening in their workplace, through the use of regular meetings, an open door policy and employment surveys.
- Think about reporting systems that allows workers to raise an issue anonymously;
- Providing training which addresses the types of harassment, guidance on acceptable behaviour and what should be done if staff experience or witness harassment;
- Make an assessment to identify risks and control measures to minimise risks;
- Act swiftly when a harassment complaint is made; and
- Treat harassment by third parties (such as clients, customers and service users) seriously.
The guidance can be found here.
If you are an employer and would like advice on preventing or addressing harassment in the workplace please do contact us.