November 8, 2022

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Report finds women experiencing high levels of workplace harassment

New research from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust shows women more likely than men to experience harassment within or on their way to their workplace.

A new YouGov survey conducted by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust has found high levels of violent, aggressive, sexual and unwanted behaviours against employees working or on their way to work in the night-time economy.

The findings, supported by Peoplesafe, show that women are more likely than men to have experienced harassment within or on their way to their workplace, with 44% of women having experienced harassment compared with 26% of men. In the majority of all reported cases of harassment (83%), the perpetrator was a man.

Of the 1768 night-time economy workers surveyed, one-third (34%) had experienced some form of unwanted behaviour while working, or on their way to work, and 15% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment (28% of women).

Of respondents who had been harassed, 60% had never reported their experiences to their employer, with many unconvinced that action would be taken. Likewise, three-quarters of respondents who had been harassed while working or travelling to work in the night-time economy had not reported their experiences to the police.

Commenting on the report, Suky Bhaker, CEO of Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said urgent change was needed. “We urge the government and employers to take all reasonable steps to stamp out workplace harassment via a robust legislative framework, policy and support to help shift the pervasive culture of abuse within the night-time economy.”

In light of the report, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust is making the following policy recommendations:

  • For the government to support the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill that would legislate for a preventative duty and require employers to take all reasonable steps to stop workplace sexual harassment while also protecting women from sexual harassment from third parties.
  • The government should work with specialist services to ensure there is a national framework on tackling harassment that can be implemented within businesses. This framework would build on best practice from initiatives such as the Women’s Night Safety Charter, including rolling out bystander training.
  • Legislative change is urgently needed to ensure individuals’ right to safety within public spaces. It is imperative that the Government supports proposals to make public sexual harassment a standalone offence.
  • The Government should urgently ring-fence funding for women and girls’ safety on public transport across the UK, and continue funding for safer public spaces such as through the Safer Streets Fund. Transport services must provide regular, safe routes home from work, such as 24-hour transport systems.
  • The Government and employers should collect and publish data on the prevalence of workplace harassment, including sexual harassment, and the impact on those who experience it to support more victims.
  • For employers to publish their personal safety policy. If employers do not have any policy in place, they should consult with specialist organisations such as the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to introduce one.

MP Wera Hobhouse shared cautious optimism after her Private Members Bill passed its Second Reading in the House. “It aims to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace by forcing employers to ensure that their workplaces are safe,” she said. “This Bill, alongside the work of organisations like the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, I hope will start the culture shift we desperately need.”

Click here to listen to an on-demand SHP webinar, How to protect all staff in a world of hybrid working, including speakers from Suzy Lamplugh Trust and Peoplesafe.

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