Prepare for the Worker Protection Act

Philip Grindell
Written by Philip Grindell
A female employee being sexually harassed at work

A recent article by Philip Grindell published in The Recruiter


Employers and business leaders need to be more proactive ahead of new legislation designed to protect employees from sexual harassment. From October, employers will need to comply with a legal duty to take ‘reasonable steps’ aiming to prevent sexual harassment of employees. This follows the passing of the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023.

Under the Act, employment tribunals will have the power to increase compensation by up to 25% if it finds that an employer has breached this duty. Too many companies are woefully ill-prepared for the changes coming down the line.

Clearly, employers shouldn’t wait until October to make changes. The key is to be proactive right now. Employers who delay may find themselves extremely vulnerable by the time the new law comes in.

Unfortunately, sexual harassment remains a significant issue in the UK workplace. Recent data from the Office of National Statistics reveals almost 67% of women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment at work, with some cases escalating to criminal levels.

Despite laws against such behaviour, the statistics indicate more needs to be done to address and prevent these incidents.

Employers will need to prioritise preventing sexual harassment at work by taking proactive steps. The new legislation emphasises the importance of consistently reviewing and updating harassment policies. It will also require employers to conduct frequent training sessions, and handle complaints seriously.

At the same time, it’s crucial for employers to take consistent action beyond policies and training to foster a safe and inclusive workplace. Regular workplace assessments are essential to ensure the effectiveness of existing measures. Training that focuses on behavioural indicators rather than conflict management can be useful in such nuanced issues.

Apart from the human response and the obvious duty of care, failing to be proactive may result in many other problems. These can include legal consequences like lawsuits and compensation claims, reputational damage, reduced employee morale and increased turnover and decreased productivity from employees.


Sexual harassment claims


Here are eight steps employers should look to implement now and ahead of the law change:

  1. Have clear policies: Develop and communicate clear policies on sexual harassment.
  2. Invest in training: Introduce new regular training for all employees on recognising and preventing harassment.
  3. Ensure you have reporting mechanisms: Establish straightforward procedures for reporting harassment.
  4. Conduct prompt investigations: Investigate all complaints promptly and thoroughly, and be mindful of incidents where criminal offences may have been committed.
  5. Guarantee confidentiality: Ensure that complaints are handled confidentially.
  6. Make sure you offer non-retaliation: Protect complainants from retaliation.
  7. Take appropriate actions: Take disciplinary action against perpetrators when necessary.
  8. Offer support for victims: Provide access to counselling and support services.

For further information on the toocs raised in this article or to discuss Defuse’s behavioural based workshop titled “Creating a Safer Workplace” please email us at [email protected] or call +44 (0) 207 293 0932

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