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The Worker Protection Bill has been updated and new legislation comes into effect from October 2024 covering protection from harassment.

Employment law specialist, Clare Thomas, talks through the new legislation and what it means for employers.

What does Protection from Harassment legislation mean for employers?

This new legislation means that workers will have protection from harassment – particularly sexual harassment – and employers will be duty-bound to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees.

In workplaces where sexual harassment thrives, this new legislation will be very welcomed. It marks a change in legislation from ‘redress’ to ‘prevention’, making it an obligation for employers to proactively tackle any sexual harassment issues prevalent in the workplace.

What does the legislation cover?

The new law applies only to sexual harassment. It does not cover harassment issues such as race, gender, age or sexual orientation. Although primarily introduced to protect women, the law will apply to all genders.

Organisations should take reasonable steps to comply

Organisations should aim to have a culture of zero tolerance to sexual harassment, and while there is no hard and fast rule as to what ‘reasonable steps’ means in the legislation, this may include:

Protection from Harassment policies

All businesses should have appropriate policies in place to protect workers.

In this case, they should clearly set out what to do if someone has a sexual harassment complaint, who an employee should speak to, and what happens next.

Protection from harassment can be built into existing equality and diversity policies, but if you do decide to create a specific policy, you should consult with either employee representatives or trade union representatives on its content.

There are important items that you should include in any sexual harassment policy, including a range of options on how to report a complaint.

Most businesses choose to take advice from an employment law specialist to ensure that everything is covered and that all the details comply with current law. If you’d like to speak with an expert from B&P about this or any employment law issue, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Although the new law doesn’t come into effect until later this year, businesses should prepare early. This shows that they are considerate employers, which in turn will send positive messages about workplace culture to employees.

How will the new law be enforced?

If an employee has a successful claim of sexual harassment and their employer is found to have not taken ‘reasonable steps’ to avoid the sexual harassment, an employment tribunal will be able to uplift any compensation by 25%. This means that claims against employers can be quite costly (compensation in the most serious cases of sexual harassment is uncapped and includes an award for injury to feelings), so it’s worth ensuring that as an employer, you’ve done everything you can to ensure that sexual harassment doesn’t happen in your workplace.

Where can I get more information on the new law?

If you’re looking to include further protection from harassment policies into your workplace documentation and want to find out more about the new bill, you can visit the Government’s website.  Clare Thomas is also available to discuss this and other workplace policies:

Tel: 01782 200500 | 07498 920473


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