Employees already have a right not to suffer sexual harassment at work. This Act introduces a proactive duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. What will this mean in practice?
What are ‘reasonable steps’
We’ll need a Statutory Code of Practice from the EHRC for guidance on what constitutes ‘reasonable steps’ but it’s safe to assume that training and appropriate policies and reporting procedures will be high on the list.
Tribunals are already keen to call out ‘tick box’ and ‘stale’ training in this area, so ensuring regular, high-quality training is paramount. We can help – get in touch.
A breach of this new duty won’t give rise to separate claims, but, it will give tribunals the power to apply an uplift of up to 25% on any compensation awarded if it finds an employee has been sexually harassed at work and the employer has not taken reasonable steps to prevent it from happening.
Compensation for sexual harassment claims is uncapped so this could have a significant financial impact.
No third-party harassment
The Act was expected to introduce a duty on employers to protect employees from third-party harassment (by customers and clients, for example) but this has been removed and will not come into force.
The Act is expected to come into force in 12 months.
Get in touch if you’d like to have a chat about how we can support you with training in this area.
This update is accurate on the date it was published, but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.