MPs call for action to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace
A group of MPs has called on the Government to introduce a new duty on employers to prevent harassment at work.
A report published by the Women and Equalities parliamentary select committee warns that sexual harassment at work is “widespread and commonplace” and that employers and regulators have ignored their responsibilities for too long.
The report adds that “shameful that unwanted sexual behaviours” such as sexual comments, touching, groping and assault are seen as an “everyday occurrence and part of the culture” in workplaces.
It also quotes a BBC survey in October2017, which found that 40% of women and 18% of men had experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace.
It adds that while these behaviours are unlawful, the Government, regulators and employers have failed to tackle them, despite their responsibilities to do so under UK and international law.
The report calls on the Government to put sexual harassment at the top of the agenda and introduce a new duty on employers to prevent harassment, supported by a statutory code of practice.
It also recommends ministers clean up the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), including by requiring the use of standard, plain English confidentiality clauses, which set out the meaning, limit and effect of the clause.
“It is utterly shameful that in 2018, unwanted sexual comments, touching, groping and assault are seen as an everyday occurrence and part of the culture in many workplaces,” said committee chair, Maria Miller.
“Government, regulators and employers have been dodging their responsibilities for far too long. There is currently little incentive for employers to take robust action.
“In contrast, there is considerable focus on other corporate governance issues like protecting people’s personal data and preventing money laundering, with stringent requirements on employers and businesses to meet their responsibilities,” added Ms Miller.
“It’s time to put the same emphasis on tackling sexual harassment.”
Earlier this month, SHP Online reported the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and the Musician’s Union (MU) have launched a joint code of practice to help eradicate bullying, harassment and discrimination in the sector.
The code follows the publication of ISM’s Dignity at Work report in April, which found high levels of sexual harassment in the music sector, as well as bullying and discrimination.
To read the committee’s full report, click here.
Download a free ‘Bullying and harassment in the workplace’ employee factsheet, which discusses: What is bullying and harassment?, the impact of workplace bullying, the role of an employer, advice for combatting bullying, actions to take and provides some sources of help and information.