Still just a bit of banter?

Report type
Research and reports
Issue date
10 Aug 2016
Key findings

Key findings relating to the extent of sexual harassment in modern workplaces are:

  • More than half (fifty two per cent) of all women polled have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
  • Thirty-five per cent of women have heard comments of a sexual nature being made about other women in the workplace.
  • Thirty-two per cent of women have been subject to unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature.
  • Twenty-eight per cent of women have been subject to comments of a sexual nature about their body or clothes.
  • Nearly one quarter of women have experienced unwanted touching (such as a hand on the knee or lower back).
  • One fifth of women have experienced unwanted sexual advances. Trades Union Congress Still just a bit of banter? 
  • More than one in ten women reported experiencing unwanted sexual touching or attempts to kiss them.
  • In the vast majority of cases, the perpetrator was a male colleague, with nearly one in five reporting that their direct manager or someone else with direct authority over them was the perpetrator.
  • Four out of five women did not report the sexual harassment to their employer.

While trade unionists have never been in any doubt about the scale of the problem - dealing with cases of sexual harassment in the workplace is the bread and butter work of many union reps – evidence can be hard to come by. This TUC report, based on polling and the experiences of trade union members, gives us both the numbers and the voices to tell the real story.

By commissioning polling and also gathering testimonies from union members via an online survey about their experiences of sexual harassment, this report explores both the nature and the scope of the problem and shines a light on an issue which is too often overlooked and underestimated.

The final section of this report sets out clear recommendations to government, employers and unions.

Recommendations for government

  • Abolition of employment tribunal fees
  • Reinstatement of third party harassment legislation
  • Reinstatement of employment tribunal powers to make wider recommendations
  • Reinstatement of Statutory Equality Questionnaire
  • Recognition and facility time for union equality reps
  • Extend full range of statutory employment rights to all workers, regardless of employment status or type of contract.

Recommendations for employers

  • Decent jobs
  • Training
  • Clear policies
  • Implementation and enforcement of policies.

Recommendations for trade unions

  • Training
  • Workplace campaigns
  • Negotiating workplace policies.