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Government policy change on sexual harassment is a victory for union campaigning

A new poll published recently (Wednesday) by the TUC revealed that around 7 in 10 (68%) disabled women surveyed about sexual harassment say they have been sexually harassed at work. 

  • TUC welcomes government commitment to introduce a new duty on employers to protect all their staff from sexual harassment at work, and to protect workers harassed by clients or customers as well as colleagues  
  • As well as sexual harassment, union body says new protections will help stamp out racist and homophobic abuse of workers too  
  • TUC warns the legislation must be introduced as soon as possible, and will need proper support for enforcement

Commenting on the response to the government’s consultation on sexual harassment published by the Government Equalities Office, which sets out government proposals to stamp out sexual harassment at work, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady recently said:  

“Today’s news is a victory for years of trade union campaigning – and for every single one of those survivors who shared their experiences of sexual harassment at work to bring about change. 

“No one should face sexual harassment at work, but the shocking reality is that most women have. Employers will now have a legal responsibility to protect their staff from sexual harassment.  

“And employers must now protect their workers from all forms of harassment by customers and clients as well as from colleagues. This will help stamp out sexual harassment of women workers, and racist and homophobic abuse too. And it will make all public-facing workplaces safer – from shops to surgeries, salons to showrooms.   

“If this is to be a genuine turning point, the government must change the law swiftly, put more resources into enforcing the new duties, and make sure victims have access to justice. 

“Ministers have taken an important first step – but they must keep up the momentum. Sexual harassment at work is rife and needs tackling now.” 

Editors Note

The consultation response is at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace/outcome/consultation-on-sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace-government-response  
It commits to four key duties that the TUC has campaigned for: 

  • Introducing a mandatory duty on employers to protect their staff from sexual harassment at work.
  • Introducing explicit protections for employees from harassment by third parties, for example customers or clients. 
  • Considering extending employment tribunal time limits from three to six months. 
  • Tasking the EHRC with developing a statutory code of practice on sexual harassment and harassment at work, setting out the steps that employers should take to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, and what can be considered in evidence when determining whether the duty has been breached. 

TUC 2021 study on disabled women and sexual harassment in the workplace: The new polling about disabled women and sexual harassment published today (Wednesday) is available at: www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-survey-7-10-disabled-women-say-theyve-been-sexually-harassed-work  

TUC 2019 study on sexual harassment of LGBT people in the workplace: The TUC’s 2019 survey on sexual harassment of LGBT people is at: www.tuc.org.uk/news/nearly-7-10-lgbt-people-say-they-have-been-sexually-harassed-work-says-tuc   

TUC 2016 study on sexual harassment of women - ‘Just a bit of banter’: The TUC’s 2016 study on sexual harassment of women at work is available at: www.tuc.org.uk/news/nearly-two-three-young-women-have-experienced-sexual-harassment-work-tuc-survey-reveals

TUC Campaign #ThisIsNotWorking: A coalition of organisations, led by the TUC, calling on the government to introduce an easily enforceable legal duty requiring employers to take all reasonable steps to protect workers from sexual harassment and victimisation: www.tuc.org.uk/campaigns/sexual-harassment-has-no-place-workplace-thisisnotworking  

TUC letter to Liz Truss Minister for Women and Equalities: Calling on the government to reset its approach to LGBT rights specifically calling for the introduction of a duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment: www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/equality-respect-and-safety-lgbt-workers  

About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

 

Original article link: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/government-policy-change-sexual-harassment-victory-union-campaigning

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