Equality and Human Rights Commission action to clamp down on sexual harassment in the workplace

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR) has taken action to clamp down on sexual harassment at work. The commission has written to the chairs of FTSE 100 companies and other leading employers demanding evidence of what they were doing to prevent sexual harassment, asking them to provide them with details of the safeguards they had in place, steps they had taken to ensure all employees can report instances of harassment.

The letter warned of legal action where there was evidence of systemic failures to deal with such behaviour. Sexual harassment is unlawful under the 2010 Equality Act, and employers can be held liable if they have not taken reasonable steps to prevent it.

The commission has launched its own guide to the law as it relates to sexual harassment, focusing on the problem following a wave of high-profile sexual harassment claims against politicians and actors.

Employers have been warned that senior managers should give clear messages about standards and role model inclusive behaviour. In addition, staff must be supported with education on what is acceptable and how to respond to unacceptable behaviour. Employers must ensure they have robust reporting and management procedures to protect staff from sexual harassment.

The commission’s guide said all employers were expected to communicate an anti-harassment policy to workers and ensure it was effectively implemented and reviewed. It added that they should maintain an appropriate procedure for reporting harassment, protecting victims and taking action against perpetrators.

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