Will these proposed regulations to help victims of workplace sexual harassment be effective?

PUBLISHED: 10:11 27 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:11 27 March 2018

Will new legislation to protect victims of sexual harassment at work go far enough? 
PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Will new legislation to protect victims of sexual harassment at work go far enough? PHOTO: Nick Butcher


Victims of sexual harassment at work have been silenced by “corrosive” cultures while their abusers’ behaviour is “normalised”, a new report claims.

In an attempt to better protect victims, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has called on the government to introduce legislation stopping employers ignoring complaints to protect their reputation.

The commission said it had discovered “truly shocking” examples of sexual harassment, including a 17-year-old who locked herself in a toilet after men “joked” about rape, and a woman who revealed she lost her job and her health.

Firms should not use non-disclosure agreements to sweep sexual harassment under the carpet, it said,

It suggests there should be a new legal duty on employers to prevent harassment or victimisation, as well as more protection for victims, and that managers should be given training on how to tackle any problems.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the EHRC, said: “We set out to discover how sexual harassment at work is dealt with by employers and how it is experienced by individuals. What we found was truly shocking.

“There is a lack of consistent, effective action being taken by employers, and people’s careers and mental and physical health have been damaged as a result.

“Corrosive cultures have silenced individuals and sexual harassment has been normalised. We underestimate extent and we are complacent as to impact.

“We need urgent action to turn the tables in British workplaces, shifting from the current culture of people risking their jobs and health in order to report harassment, to placing the onus on employers to prevent and resolve it.”

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “No woman should face humiliation, intimidation or harassment at work.

“Sadly it’s becoming increasingly clear not only that it’s an all too common experience but that far too many employers are turning a blind eye or even silencing victims of harassment.”

Have you experienced this sexual harassment at work? Share your story anonymously – email

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