The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published new guidance on dealing with harassment and sexual harassment at work. It highlights a number of steps that an employer can take to prevent and deal with any issues that arise in the workplace.
The seven step guide for employers encourages businesses to:
- develop an effective anti-harassment policy – policies should be monitored and their success regularly reviewed;
- engage staff – conduct regular 1-2-1s and have open door policies;
- assess and mitigate risks in the workplace – consider factors that might increase the likelihood of sexual harassment such as power imbalances and lone working;
- think about reporting systems – an online system or telephone based service may be appropriate;
- deliver training – workers should be taught what sexual harassment looks like and what to do if they experience it;
- know what to do when a complaint is made – employers should act immediately if any concerns are reported;
- know what to do if dealing with sexual harassment and third parties – harassment by customers or suppliers should be treated as seriously as that of a colleague.
Employers have a duty of care to protect their workers and will be liable for harassment in the workplace if they have not taken reasonable steps to prevent it. The EHRC guidance is helpful in identifying what those reasonable steps might be.
It is not uncommon for employees who have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace to bring this to their employer’s attention by making a protected disclosure (more commonly known as a whistleblowing complaint). Please click here for information about our upcoming whistleblowing seminars in Milton Keynes and London.