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Martin Searle Solicitors

Avoiding Sexual Harassment In Your Workplace

How to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose of violating the dignity of a worker, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.’

This includes individuals treated less favourably because they rejected or submitted to unwanted sexual conduct.

Sexual harassment is not always men sexually harassing women and claims can be made where men have been sexually harassed, not only by women, but also by other men.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission carried out a sexual harassment survey in 2018 and have recommended sensible and important steps employers can take to ensure that their workplace is safe.

These include recommendations about the breadth and visibility of your organisation’s stance on sexual harassment.

Recommendations include:

  • Publishing your organisation’s sexual harassment policy and the steps being taken to implement and evaluate this on your website.
  • Ensuring that your organisation’s sexual harassment policy explicitly addresses your obligations under the Equality Act 2010 in respect of workers supplied to them by third parties
  • Ensuring your sexual harassment policy is shared with organisations supplying staff and services and that these workers are aware of your organisation’s policy and how to report instances of sexual harassment.
  • Ensuring all current and potential employees are aware of your organisation’s commitment to preventing sexual harassment at work.
  • Raising awareness of the steps your organisation is taking to ensure your workplace is free from sexual harassment and how everyone – whether directly employed, an agency worker or even an interviewee – can report any incidents that do occur.

Making all this information public will facilitate sharing of best practice and encourage other employers who are falling behind to improve their practices.

If a complaint is reported to police, or criminal court proceedings are being pursued, your organisation must still investigate the complaint as an employment matter. You will need to  follow your organisation’s disciplinary procedure, without awaiting the outcome of criminal proceedings, provided this can be done fairly.

How we can help employers deal with sexual harassment claims

If one of your workers or contractors reports that they have been sexually harassed by someone in your organisation, you need to take immediate action to minimise any potential claims for sexual harassment. We can provide HR consultants to investigate and to assist you in holding an internal grievance and/or disciplinary hearing to avoid expensive sex discrimination claims against your company.

Contact us today to find out more on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

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