Call us on:  0808 172 93 22

ME THREE!

27236204 - vector illustration of stop harassment concept backgroundWith sexual harassment occurring in contexts such as Westminster, Hollywood and even involving the President of the United States, it is hard to believe that in 2018 women in the main, although this is also affecting men, are still having to experience this intolerable behaviour, in both a social and professional environment.

No workplace is immune to sexual harassment, and employers have a duty to take “reasonable steps” to protect employees – if they fail to do so they can be held liable for any sexual harassment engaged in by their staff.

This duty used to extend to protecting employees against third party harassment, such as harassment by customers. However since 2013, an employer only has to protect an employee against a third party if it knew the employee had been harassed by the individual on at least two occasions.

Given the level of sexual harassment in the workplace, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (“EHRC”), between December 2017 and February 2018 spoke to almost 1000 individuals and employers about this issue and produced a report “Turning the Tables: Ending Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.”

One of their shocking findings is a prevalence of toxic workplace cultures, which normalise sexual harassment by a tacit acceptance that this is just what occurs in the workplace! One employee reported to the EHRC, “We’ve been told nothing can be done for harassment with customers except if we see someone who stalks you, then we are allowed to hide out back.”

The other shocking finding is a genuine fear of victimisation if the courage is found to make a report of sexual harassment, particularly as the EHRC found that the most common perpetrator was a senior male colleague. One employee said they were discouraged from reporting an incident, being told “this would damage my brand.” Another employee reported being told by a partner close to the perpetrator that, “the Firm would ensure my career was destroyed if I told anyone about the incidents.”

Employers now need to take a stand to prevent their employers from suffering in silence in this way!

Employers should aim to have a positive workplace culture that does not tolerate or normalise sexual harassment, and which supports its employees in reporting and investigating unacceptable behaviour.

In order to achieve this, they should have a clear policy outlining the steps to be followed if someone is being harassed. An employer should not rely on its generic Grievance Policy for this situation, as the findings of the EHRC demonstrate that this is not sufficient.

Including information on sexual harassment when inducting new employees is an effective way of ensuring that all new staff are clear about the behaviours expected in the workplace and how to report instances when behaviour falls below this standard.

All employees, particularly managers and those in HR roles, should be given training on how to deal with reports of sexual harassment, and the Company should ensure that policies are communicated on an ongoing basis, for example through anti-harassment weeks, periodic training and posters.

Employers can regularly monitor their employees’ views on the effectiveness of its approach through staff surveys.

Putting all of the above in place will not only reduce the occurrence of sexual harassment in the workplace, but will also help strengthen an employer’s defence if a claim is brought against it, as it will be able to demonstrate the numerous steps it had taken to protect its employees.

Going forward, the EHRC has asked the Government to consider introducing a mandatory duty for employers to protect employees against sexual harassment, which will be supported by a Statutory Code of Practice setting out the compulsory steps to be taken by an employer to demonstrate compliance. It is also calling for the Government to develop an online tool, which addresses the barriers identified in reporting sexual harassment by allowing anonymous online reporting. ACAS has been asked to develop targeted sexual harassment training to support employers in achieving the requirements of the Code.

Finally, which may be of interest to Mr. Trump, is a call to make void all Non-Disclosure Agreements, which employees may be asked to sign at the outset of their employment (or a particular social event) with the aim of preventing the disclosure of future acts of discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

Whether the Government adopts these requirements however is yet to be decided.

Updated: by content@allthingsmanagement.co.uk
Call us on:  0808 172 93 22

ME THREE!

27236204 - vector illustration of stop harassment concept backgroundWith sexual harassment occurring in contexts such as Westminster, Hollywood and even involving the President of the United States, it is hard to believe that in 2018 women in the main, although this is also affecting men, are still having to experience this intolerable behaviour, in both a social and professional environment.

No workplace is immune to sexual harassment, and employers have a duty to take “reasonable steps” to protect employees – if they fail to do so they can be held liable for any sexual harassment engaged in by their staff.

This duty used to extend to protecting employees against third party harassment, such as harassment by customers. However since 2013, an employer only has to protect an employee against a third party if it knew the employee had been harassed by the individual on at least two occasions.

Given the level of sexual harassment in the workplace, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (“EHRC”), between December 2017 and February 2018 spoke to almost 1000 individuals and employers about this issue and produced a report “Turning the Tables: Ending Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.”

One of their shocking findings is a prevalence of toxic workplace cultures, which normalise sexual harassment by a tacit acceptance that this is just what occurs in the workplace! One employee reported to the EHRC, “We’ve been told nothing can be done for harassment with customers except if we see someone who stalks you, then we are allowed to hide out back.”

The other shocking finding is a genuine fear of victimisation if the courage is found to make a report of sexual harassment, particularly as the EHRC found that the most common perpetrator was a senior male colleague. One employee said they were discouraged from reporting an incident, being told “this would damage my brand.” Another employee reported being told by a partner close to the perpetrator that, “the Firm would ensure my career was destroyed if I told anyone about the incidents.”

Employers now need to take a stand to prevent their employers from suffering in silence in this way!

Employers should aim to have a positive workplace culture that does not tolerate or normalise sexual harassment, and which supports its employees in reporting and investigating unacceptable behaviour.

In order to achieve this, they should have a clear policy outlining the steps to be followed if someone is being harassed. An employer should not rely on its generic Grievance Policy for this situation, as the findings of the EHRC demonstrate that this is not sufficient.

Including information on sexual harassment when inducting new employees is an effective way of ensuring that all new staff are clear about the behaviours expected in the workplace and how to report instances when behaviour falls below this standard.

All employees, particularly managers and those in HR roles, should be given training on how to deal with reports of sexual harassment, and the Company should ensure that policies are communicated on an ongoing basis, for example through anti-harassment weeks, periodic training and posters.

Employers can regularly monitor their employees’ views on the effectiveness of its approach through staff surveys.

Putting all of the above in place will not only reduce the occurrence of sexual harassment in the workplace, but will also help strengthen an employer’s defence if a claim is brought against it, as it will be able to demonstrate the numerous steps it had taken to protect its employees.

Going forward, the EHRC has asked the Government to consider introducing a mandatory duty for employers to protect employees against sexual harassment, which will be supported by a Statutory Code of Practice setting out the compulsory steps to be taken by an employer to demonstrate compliance. It is also calling for the Government to develop an online tool, which addresses the barriers identified in reporting sexual harassment by allowing anonymous online reporting. ACAS has been asked to develop targeted sexual harassment training to support employers in achieving the requirements of the Code.

Finally, which may be of interest to Mr. Trump, is a call to make void all Non-Disclosure Agreements, which employees may be asked to sign at the outset of their employment (or a particular social event) with the aim of preventing the disclosure of future acts of discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

Whether the Government adopts these requirements however is yet to be decided.