New duty: government response to sexual harassment in the workplace consultation

Posted on September 9th, 2021

Following the consultation, which ran from July to October 2019, the government has published a report, which states that it will be introducing a new duty requiring employers to prevent sexual harassment.

Elizabeth Truss MP, Minister for Women and Equalities, wrote:

‘We will be providing further protections to employees who are victims of sexual harassment, while also furnishing employers with the motivation and support to put in place practices and policies which respond to the needs of their organisation’.

Preventing sexual harassment

There are four main areas covered in the report.

Employers’ duty

The government intends to introduce a mandatory duty on employers to protect their staff from sexual harassment at work – employers are required to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment in their workplace.

Protection for employees from harassment by third parties

There will also be explicit protections for employees from harassment by third parties, for example customers and clients.

Time limit extended

They are considering extending the time limit for bringing a claim to an employment tribunal from three to six months.

Government support

There will be government support to the Equality and Human Rights Commission with developing:

  • A statutory code of practice on sexual harassment and harassment at work.
  • Setting out steps that employers should take to prevent and respond to sexual harassment.
  • What can be considered in evidence when determining whether the duty has been breached.

Full report

The full government report can be found here.

CEFMi policy

The current CEFMi Anti-harassment and anti-bullying policy for staff provides background and guidance to an anti-harassment and anti-bullying policy for staff. It also includes informal and formal complaints procedures. The policy can be found here for subscribers to our CEFMi website.

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