Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
Highways England signs legally binding agreement to protect staff from sexual harassment
Highways England has signed a legally binding agreement with Britain’s Equality watchdog after a staff member was awarded £74,000 in compensation for sexual harassment and unfair dismissal.
The agency signed the legal document, known as a section 23 agreement under the Equality Act 2006, to improve protections from sexual harassment in the workplace for its 5,000 employees.
Highways England has agreed to implement a number of key measures to address sexual harassment, including:
- implementing a new Respect at Work Policy;
- updating its E-learning module on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, which will be mandatory for all employees;
- refreshing Recruitment and Onboarding materials to reflect best practice;
- appointing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champions;
- launching a new Redeployment Policy;
- practical training in conducting discipline and grievance investigations and hearings for people managers;
- revising their case escalation process;
- legal training for leaders & people managers;
- completing risk assessments in relation to sexual harassment and putting mitigations in place to manage identified risks.
The agreement follows an employment tribunal which found in favour of an ex-employee of Highways England, who was sexually harassed by her boss for months before leaving the organisation.
Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, yesterday said:
“Everyone deserves to feel respected and safe at work. Yet a decade since the Equality Act 2010, and 45 years since the Sexual Discrimination Act first protected women from discrimination at work, it’s clear there is still a long way to go before we can say sexual harassment is a thing of the past.
“Highways England is an employer responsible for 5,000 people. They have taken an important step in committing to providing crucial protection for staff. They’ve also sent a clear message to other organisations that sexual harassment has no place in their business or in our society.”
The EHRC wrote to Highways England in March of this year highlighting its enforcement powers, which include the power to investigate an organisation, to ensure they had taken the necessary steps to prevent sexual harrassment occurring in the future.
The steps now adopted by Highways England include measures set out in EHRC’s technical guidance for employers, which was produced in January this year, offering a legal explanation and practical examples of how to tackle and respond effectively to harassment.
A spokesperson from Highways England yesterday said:
“Highways England is committed to providing an inclusive and safe workplace, in which individuals are valued and respected.
“As a result of this case we are improving our policies and procedures in this area, to help prevent further such occurrences and we are grateful to the EHRC for their expert support.”
Press contact details
For more press information contact the Commission's media office on:
0161 829 8102
07767 272 818 (out of hours)
Latest News from
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
Updated evidence of human rights progress available on human rights regulator’s tracker16/09/2021 14:15:00
From today, organisations and individuals can find evidence of action and progress by the UK and Welsh Governments across 11 new human rights topics on our Human Rights Tracker.
Scottish Legal Aid Board sign legal agreement to improve approach to equality26/07/2021 14:33:00
The Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) have signed a legal agreement with Britain’s national equality body, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), committing them to improving their assessment and review of the impact of their policies on people with protected characteristics which will put equality considerations at the centre of their work.
Equality body to examine the right to challenge decisions about adult social care19/07/2021 12:38:00
The ability to challenge decisions made by local councils about adult social care will be scrutinised in our latest inquiry.
Restraint must be monitored on a par with exclusions, says equality body30/06/2021 10:25:00
The use of restraint in schools should be monitored, recorded and analysed with the same rigour as exclusions, according to our new report.
Response to independent investigation into discrimination in the Conservative Party26/05/2021 11:25:00
A spokesperson from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, responded to the independent investigation into discrimination in the Conservative Party
Updated evidence of UK and Wales human rights progress available on human rights tracker21/05/2021 14:43:00
As of yesterday, organisations and individuals can find evidence of action and progress by the UK and Welsh Governments across 12 new human rights topics on HumanRightsTracker.com.
Investigation finds care agency’s recruitment practices were unlawful17/05/2021 09:25:00
Our investigation has found that a care agency used unlawful pre-employment health questions on its job application form.
East of England Ambulance Service Trust signs legal agreement to protect staff from sexual harassment28/04/2021 13:25:00
East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) has signed a legally binding agreement with us after it failed to take necessary steps to protect staff from sexual harassment.