The government has just launched a consultation on how to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace. The consultation seeks views on how employers can be encouraged to better prioritise the prevention of sexual harassment.
Consideration is being given to a new duty to require employers to actively protect staff from harassment in the workplace. This would enhance current requirements by placing a preventative duty on employers to take action, for example, implementing an equality policy, raising awareness, providing training and dealing effectively with complaints.
The government is also of the view that a statutory code of practice should be introduced which, together with published guidance, would offer detailed and practical guidance on what is expected of employers. Work on technical guidance is already under way by the Equality and Human Rights Commission - this is expected later this year and will likely form the basis of a new code.
The consultation will also explore whether interns and volunteers are adequately protected at present. Current protection under the Equality Act is specifically linked to employment status therefore does not cover volunteers, and may not cover interns.
The consultation closes on 2 October 2019.
If you have any questions or issues regarding sexual harassment in the workplace please feel free to contact a member of our employment team.