New EHRC Guidelines on Sexual Harassment
The new 2020 guidelines published by Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on sexual harassment in the workplace present an opportunity for employers to take the initiative and become leaders and not followers in this critical area.
While the EHRC has written letters to the CEO of the UK’s largest employers inviting them to come on-board with the new guidelines, employers in more modest enterprises should not feel the need to wait until the guidelines are imposed upon them by statute or regulation. Instead, now is the time to review your current policies and guidelines to assess their ability to enhance your organisation’s alignment as a harassment free workplace, particularly when it has a sexual nature. Although the EHRC’s letter to major employers places an emphasis on seven listed steps to assist in minimising the risk of sexual harassment claims in the workplace, the experience of The Employment Law Specialists would add the important step of ‘Not Acceptable Here’, encouraging and empowering all employees, at all levels of your workplace, to take active steps when they see one of their colleagues being treated inappropriately. Such active action could include: - Raising the issue in a respectful but firm manner with the perpetrator, advising such conduct or action is not acceptable in the workplace. Managers are in a particularly powerful place to take up this action, especially if the perpetrator is one of their peers; - Approaching the victim and advising they have witnessed the conduct, and would be willing to accompany the victim to report the matter to a manager/hr/etc. - Reporting the matter to an appropriate manager, human resources, etc, especially if the victim is unwilling or unable to do so themselves. Employers are also reminded of the comments made about the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDA) to deal with issues involving sexual harassment in their workplace and the new guidance published on this last month by ACAS.