How should employers handle allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace?

Allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace have come under the media spotlight recently. A survey in 2017 reported that 40% of women and 18% of men had experienced some form of unwanted sexual behaviour at work. Following a six month inquiry into the issue, the Women and Equalities Committee has published a report which calls for the government to put the subject of sexual harassment at the top of the agenda.

Report recommendations

One of the recommendations in the report is that sexual harassment is treated along the same lines as data protection and money laundering with significant sanctions for breaches imposed on employers.

The report identifies how difficult it can be for employees to raise concerns about sexual harassment and recommends taking the burden of enforcement away from individuals. It recommends subjecting employers to a duty to take reasonable action to protect workers from harassment and victimisation. Furthermore the report suggests implementing a statutory code of practice setting out steps that employers can take in order to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in the workplace.

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