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#ThisIsNotWorking alliance responds to government amendment to the worker protection bill

Everybody deserves to feel safe at work. In this day and age it is unacceptable that at least 40% of women will experience workplace sexual harassment, with that number even higher for disabled women and Black and minoritised women. 

The TUC, along with #ThisIsNotWorking alliance from across the women and equalities sector and the trade union movement have campaigned for years to create the change necessary to ensure more protection for women at work. As a result, in 2021, Government committed to implementing a preventative duty and third-party protections. That means that employers would have a duty to proactively prevent sexual harassment, and to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of employees from third parties. 

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill is the means by which these changes are meant to happen, and the Government had leant their full support to this Private Member’s Bill. Now, as the bill approaches its third reading in the House of Commons, Government has introduced an amendment that risks undermining these changes that are crucial to making work safe for all. 

Together, we are urging the Government to drop these last-minute additions and keep their own promises. 

Statement from The TUC, along with #ThisIsNotWorking alliance

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We are deeply disappointed and frustrated to learn that the Government has taken action that risks undermining its commitment to eradicate workplace sexual harassment.

Years have passed since #metoo went viral yet we have seen little to no change. This is despite women bravely coming forward with their stories – exposing the countless cases of harassment and violence they’ve been subjected to while also exposing the inadequate responses of their employers.

Throughout their careers, at least 40% of women 1 will experience workplace sexual harassment. Not only is it even higher for those who are LGBTQ+, disabled women, and Black and minoritised women but these figures are likely to just be the tip of the iceberg as 79% of women 2 don’t report their experiences.

On the back of this, organisations across the women and equalities sector along with the trade union movement, have campaigned for change, constructively engaging with Government and offering advice on the changes that needed to be made.

As a result, Government committed in 2021 to implementing a preventative duty and third-party protections.

We believed they had listened to women’s voices and experiences.

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill is the means by which these changes are meant to happen, and the Government had leant their full support to this Private Member’s Bill – highlighting that they were committed to prioritising the safety and wellbeing of women at work.

The Bill seeks to ensure that more employees are protected by requiring employers to take reasonable steps to stop workplace sexual harassment from happening in the first place. Importantly, it confers protections on workers who engage with third parties during the course of their employment. Currently, if an employee is sexually harassed by a customer or client, they are not protected.  

We are deeply disappointed by the Government’s addition of a last-minute amendment in the House of Commons that runs a real risk of diluting critically important changes which seek to make workplaces fairer, safer and more respectful – not just for women but for everyone. 

These last-minute changes don’t align with the spirit of the Bill and they are not a reflection of the voices and experiences of those impacted. Despite its 2021 commitments and its ratification of ILO Convention 190 to eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work, the Government has waited until the absolute last moment in the House of Commons to raise these concerns by introducing  this amendment. The question remains as to why this amendment has been added to a Bill with cross-party support.

We urge the Government to reassess its position by dropping these last minute additions, to ensure they maintain their own promises and support women who continue to be subjected to workplace sexual harassment.


Fawcett Society – Jemima Olchawski (Chief Executive)

Trades Union Congress – Kudsia Batool (Head of Equality and Strategy)

Times Up UK – Dame Heather Rabbatts (Chair)

University and College Union – Jo Grady (General Secretary)

Rights of Women – Deeba Syed (Senior Legal Officer)

Community Trade Union – Roy Rickhuss (General Secretary)

Suzy Lamplugh Trust – Saskia Garner (Head of Policy and Campaigns)

The Musician’s Union - Naomi Pohl (General Secretary)

Young Women’s Trust – Claire Reindorp (Chief Executive)

British Dietetic Association - Annette Mansell-Green (Director of Trade Unions and Public Affairs)

Royal College of Podiatry - Martin Furlong (Assistant General Secretary)

Unison – Josie Irwin (Senior National Officer Equality Unit)

Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers – Paddy Lillis (General Secretary)

Prospect – Sue Ferns (Senior Deputy General Secretary)

Can’t Buy My Silence – Zelda Perkins (Co-Founder)

The Equality Trust – Jo Wittams (Co-Executive Director)

Pregnant Then Screwed – Joeli Brearley (Founder and Chief Executive)

  • 1 Mayer M, Helen M, Henderson A, Marren C, Bazeley A. (2021). Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • 2 TUC/Everyday Sexism. (2016). Still just a bit of banter? Sexual harassment in the workplace in 2016.
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