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UK: Govt. Code of Practice to tackle sexual harassment at work criticised for failure to put onus on employers to protect workers

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18 December 2018

Government announces new Code of Practice to tackle sexual harassment at work

Author: Gov.uk

Government will introduce a new Code of Practice so employers better understand their legal responsibilities to protect their staff as part of a package of commitments to tackle sexual harassment at work...

The government will also consult on:

  • Non-disclosure agreements
  • How to strengthen and clarify the laws in relation to third party harassment
  • The evidence base for introducing a new legal duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace...

Minister for Women Victoria Atkins said: ...

“We are taking action to make sure employers know what they have to do to protect their staff, and people know their rights at work and what action to take if they feel intimidated or humiliated...”

[T]he government has also promised to consult on whether additional protections are needed for volunteers and interns, (looking at all the protections in the Equality Act 2010, not just those on sexual harassment), and to explore the evidence for extending the time limits to bring any workplace discrimination and harassment case under the Equality Act 2010 to an employment tribunal.

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18 December 2018

Sexual harassment at work code of practice criticised for failure to put onus on employers to protect workers

Author: Aamna Mohdin, The Guardian

The government will introduce a new statutory code of practice to tackle sexual harassment at work, following a damning report from parliament’s women and equalities committee that called for new laws to protect workers, but campaigners say the response falls short of properly tackling the issue.

The committee welcomed the government’s response to its report, but criticised it for not committing to a duty on employers to protect workers from harassment and victimisation and sanctions for employers who fail to comply with the code.

The committee [...] said: “[M]inisters have woken up and have agreed to our recommendation of a statutory code of practice. But they have missed the opportunity to place a greater onus on employers to protect workers from harassment and to increase sanctions for poor practice. Just keeping an eye on how employment tribunals respond to the new code is inadequate.”

[A] spokesperson for the Women’s Equality Party said ...: “Without imposing a clear duty on employers the government is shirking its responsibility too. But the #metoo movement is a reckoning that demands both repercussions for violence against women and clear political responsibility to actively reduce harm...”

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