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Martin Searle Solicitors

Preventing Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

We are launching a campaign this November to help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. This includes a free telephone advice line for employers and employees concerned about inappropriate conduct in the workplace which could constitute sexual harassment.

A 2016 study carried out by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that over half of women had been sexually harassed at work, but 79% of women felt they were not able to report these incidents to their employers.

A quarter of victims felt that they would not be taken seriously when reporting incidents of sexual harassment, and 15% thought that doing so would have a negative impact on their career prospects.

Although women are significantly more likely to experience sexual harassment in the workplace, approximately 1 in 5 men have also experienced some form of unwanted sexual conduct at work.

An alliance of unions, charities and women’s rights groups, including the Fawcett Society and Amnesty, have launched a joint campaign calling for new legislation that would legally require employers to take proactive measures to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

Currently it is left to the victims to report sexual harassment at work, and there is no legal obligation for employers to take action to prevent it from happening.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) are currently running a consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace, to investigate whether the current laws on protecting people from sexual harassment are effective. This consultation runs until October this year.

Fiona Martin, Director and Head of Employment Law, said “It is important that employers encourage employees and workers to come forward, whilst discouraging this type of behaviour. Speaking out about sexual harassment is difficult with much at stake for the complainant, including reputation, career prospects and the fear of dismissal. A thorough investigation is crucial as those accused must also be in a position to know the detail of the allegations in order to be able to defend themselves.”

The campaign coincides with the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences and University of Sussex panel discussion #MeToo: A journey towards a harassment-free workplace, on Friday 8th November, where Fiona Martin will speak alongside representatives from groups including Survivors Network, Sussex Police, The Fawcett Society and Brighton & Hove City Council on the impact of #MeToo and what steps can be taken to achieve a harassment-free workplace.

To support their campaign, we are producing a series of factsheets, case studies and FAQs for employers and employees covering sexual harassment in the workplace, which can be found on our website.

Throughout November, on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 4pm to 6pm, our Employment Law team will provide free legal advice that will help employees understand their rights around sexual harassment, and provide advice to employers on creating a working environment where all employees feel safe and are supported by their employer. Call 01273 609911 to speak to our employment law specialists.

If you require advice about ensuring equality in your workplace, or your right to take action against sexual harassment, please contact our specialist Employment Law team today on 01273 609911, or at info@ms-solicitors.co.uk

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