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New Duty To Prevent Sexual Harassment – What You Need To Know.

New Duty To Prevent Sexual Harassment - What You Need To Know.

Category

Employment, Immigration

Date

June 6, 2024
The read

New legislation is coming that employers need to be aware of.

Last week, the trade union, Bectu, published research citing 92% of workers in the creative industry have witnessed or experienced bullying or harassment at work. This grim statistic highlights the prevalence of such conduct in the creative industry, leading to high profile individuals, such as Keira Knightley and Cara Delevingne,  signing an open letter urging creative organisations to provide financial backing for a new watchdog, the Creative Industry Independent Standards Authority (Ciisa). Many broadcasters have already made initial payments supporting Ciisa, including BBC, Sky, ITV and Channel 4, among others. As support grows, this will likely gain momentum across other industries.

From a legislative perspective, the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 (“the Act”) comes into force in October 2024. This will impose a new duty on employers to proactively take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. There is clear emphasis on employers taking positive action to stamp out sexual harassment in the workplace, rather than reacting retrospectively to instances of the same.

The new positive duty contained in the Act is specific to harassment of a sexual nature and will not give rise to a standalone claim. If a Claimant is successful in a claim for sexual harassment, they could be awarded an increase in compensation by up to 25% if the employer is found to having failed to proactively take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

Examples of reasonable steps could include:
  • Targeted sexual harassment training for managers and the wider workforce
  • Review and update policies on harassment
  • Risk assessments for harassment
  • Effective reporting and investigation procedures

Looking ahead to the election on 4 July 2024 – Labour, should they get in, have indicated they would enforce further obligations on employers with regards to eliminating harassment in the workplace, including conduct carried out by third parties. Although the result of the election remains to be seen, what is evident is that there is an increasing obligation on employers to take active, positive steps to eliminate harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace.

If you would like further advice on the reasonable steps you could take, we are producing an informative training video on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace to assist employers with training their wider workforce on harassment. Follow our socials for updates on that in the near future.

In the meantime, if you have any queries or need support on any of the issues discussed in this article, reach out to our employment team at: EmploymentTeam@squareonelaw.com.