A government committee has revealed they are launching a new inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace after experts calling for immediate change. The aim is to focus on how sexual misconduct can be dealt with more efficiently by improving existing laws. It will also review how the government and employers can change and improve workplace culture. This follows several public complaints and cases in previous months.
The advantages and disadvantages will also be identified of utilising non-closure agreements in sexual harassment cases. The government has asked all UK organisations and individuals to provide evidence on sexual harassment against females in the workplace.
Maria Miller who chairs the committee stated: “Over the past few months there have been widespread reports of women’s appalling experiences of sexual harassment at work. Our recent evidence session with legal experts, employee and employers’ representatives painted a stark picture.
Clearly much more needs to be done, both by the government and employers: this inquiry is about identifying solutions.”
During the hearing, proposals such as increasing time limits for sexual harassment employment tribunal claims, lowering legal costs, strengthening sanctions for non-compliance with harassment laws, and reinstating employer tribunal questionnaires were all made.
The inquiry will also review how the government and employers can protect their staff members from sexual harassment by colleagues, customers, clients, and other third parties. Employers will also focus on how they can improve their employee’s confidence so they can report any problems they have experienced or witnessed.
Other proposals brought forward was to implement training for line management, so they understand how to deal with sexual harassment cases and also to make risk assessments compulsory for all organisations. Dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace needs to be of higher importance.
Evidence on female’s experience of sexual harassment at work can be submitted onto the government’s website until Tuesday 13th March.
Fear of failure of backlash is the main reason as to why employees are afraid to raise their concerns or report complaints. Employees must feel as if they can trust their employer. For this to be enabled, employers must create an environment where employees won’t be questioned or face any consequences for raising their concerns. If employees can trust their employer, they will feel safer and comfortable in the working environment.
Communicating regularly and frequently with your employees will also help to encourage an environment where harassment can be discussed. Employers should make an effort to get to know their employees beyond their role at the business. Also, employee contributions should always be recognised by employers. This will make the employee feel valued at the business and that all their hard work and efforts do mean a lot to their employer.
Employers must be supportive of all employees, especially to those who are reporting a complaint involving harassment. Employees will feel appreciated if they know employers are listening and helping them to resolve their issue. Supporting employees will also help to keep a high level of morale within the team.
If you need advice or guidance on dealing with sexual harassment complaints or how to support employees, please contact a member of the HPC team:
T: 0844 800 5932