The Equalities and Human Rights Commission identifies widespread Sexual Harassment failures

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has identified widespread failures by employers to set out sufficient processes and policies on sexual harassment.

The commission has made a number of recommendations to the government, including:

  • The introduction of a statutory code of practice, with tribunal discretion to increase compensation by up to 25% where the code is not followed.

  • The introduction of legislation making any contractual clause which makes disclosure of future acts of discrimination, harassment or victimisation void.

  • Safeguards to restrict the use of confidentiality clauses to prevent disclosure of past acts of harassment.

  • Amending the limitation period for harassment claims in an employment tribunal to six months from the latest of (i) the act; (ii) the last in a series of acts; or (iii) exhaustion of any internal complaints procedure.

Legal opinion

The government has not stated or implied that it will be following this report but we would advise businesses to be aware of the way the tide is turning. Ultimately employers should be taking reasonable steps to protect workers from harassment and victimisation in the workplace and ensure that they have an effective anti-harassment policy in place which they would feel confident to publish if requested.