Earlier this year, the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill passed through the House of Commons. This private member’s bill initially proposed amendments to the Equality Act 2010 to make employers liable for third-party harassment and to introduce a duty requiring employers to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
However, following a debate in the House of Lords in July, the new employer liability for third-party harassment has been dropped from the draft amendments, and the employer’s new duty will be to take ‘reasonable steps’ rather than ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment. Employers will no doubt welcome these changes.
The proposed changes will still require employers to proactively take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment. If they don’t, they could face an uplift of up to 25% in the compensatory award in a related Employment Tribunal claim.
Here are some steps employers can take to protect employees from sexual harassment:
- Ensure the organisation has robust sexual harassment polices and procedures in place.
- Foster an inclusive and supportive culture so employees are aware that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated.
- Ensure managers are effectively trained on how to deal with complaints and can identify the signs to prevent them.
- Include a clear reporting and investigation procedure in policies and procedures to encourage employees to speak up and report any unacceptable behaviour.
- Ensure third-parties are aware of the organisation’s behaviour standards and that they understand the potential consequences of failure to comply.
Although the implementation date is not yet known, the bill will come into effect one year after it has been passed, so it is likely to be late 2024.
If you are a business owner or HR professional and need assistance implementing policies and procedures relating to anything mentioned in this article, or have any other HR/Employment Law issues you would like to discuss, please contact us on 01942 727200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and speak to one of our qualified experts.