The TUC, women’s rights organisations and charities have today (Wednesday) launched a joint campaign calling on the government to introduce a new law to make employers responsible for protecting their staff from sexual harassment at work.
TUC research found that more than half (52%) of women – and nearly seven out of ten LGBT people – have experienced sexual harassment at work.
But under current law there is no legal duty on employers to take proactive action to prevent harassment happening in their workplaces. Instead, the onus is on the victim of the sexual harassment to report it to their employer after it has happened.
Four out of five (79%) women who have been sexually harassed at work do not feel able to report it to their employer – meaning harassment continues unchecked in workplaces across the UK.
With the government set to launch its consultation on tackling sexual harassment soon, the TUC alliance – backed by organisations including the Fawcett Society, Action Aid, Amnesty and Time’s Up – wants to see the law changed so employers have a legal duty to take preventative measures to ensure their workplaces are harassment-free.
The new duty would be supported by a code of practice, explaining exactly what steps bosses need to take to prevent sexual harassment – such as carrying out mandatory training for staff and managers, and having clear policies.
This simple step would make a huge difference practically, says the alliance. It would mean that the burden of dealing with sexual harassment would be shifted from individuals to employers.
This would change workplace cultures and help end the problem once and for all.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s shocking that in 2019 so many people experience sexual harassment and assault while at work.
“The government must strengthen the law to put responsibility for preventing harassment on employers.
“This would shift the burden of tackling sexual harassment away from individuals. And it would help end toxic workplace cultures that silence those who’ve been harassed.
“We’re calling on everyone who want to stop sexual harassment at work to join us and call on ministers to take action.”
- The alliance has launched a petition today calling on the government to bring in the new law. It can be found here: www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/uk-gov-act-to-prevent-sexual-harassment-at-work
- The organisations in the alliance are Accord, Action Aid, Amnesty international UK, BDA, Business in the Community, Equality Trust, Equity, Fawcett Society, GMB, Imkaan, LGBT History Month, Musicians’ Union, NASUWT, NEU, Not the Job, Pregnant Then Screwed, Rights of Women, RMT, Schools OUT UK, Stonewall, Time’s Up UK, TUC, UCU, UK Black Pride, UNISON, Usdaw, Young Women’s Trust (other organisations have been invited and the TUC expects the alliance to grow).
- For more information please visit: www.tuc.org.uk/thisisnotworking
- Last week (Friday 21 June) the International Labour Organisation agreed to a treaty on violence and harassment, which will require ILO members including the UK to take action to safeguard people from sexual harassment in the workplace.
- In May, the government stated in reply to a parliamentary question that they would soon be launching a consultation on workplace sexual harassment, including the possibility of a duty on employers to prevent harassment: www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2019-05-15.254853.h
- TUC research on sexual harassment is available at: www.tuc.org.uk/news/nearly-two-three-young-women-have-experienced-sexual-harassment-work-tuc-survey-reveals
- TUC research on the sexual harassment of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people is available at:www.tuc.org.uk/news/nearly-7-10-lgbt-people-say-they-have-been-sexually-harassed-work-says-tuc
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 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.
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