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Government response to consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace

​The government has finally published its response to the consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace, after the Women and Equalities Select Committee ("WESC") launched an inquiry into workplace sexual harassment in 2018.

In their response, the government have announced the intention to introduce mandatory duty on employers to protect their staff from sexual harassment at work. It is anticipated that this will require employers to take 'all reasonable steps' to prevent harassment.

The government have also confirmed their intention to task the Equality and Human Rights Commission in developing a statutory code of practice. This will set out the steps that employers should take to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, and what can be considered in evidence when determining whether the duty has been breached.

To compliment this new code of practice, the government will produce accessible guidance for employers.

The government are continuing to consider extending employment tribunal time limits for those bringing sexual harassment cases from three to six months. This will apply to schools when the legislation is finalised and brought into effect. NAHT will provide members with further details as this progresses.

In the meantime, members may wish to take a look at the current technical guidance from the EHRC. This offers a legal explanation and practical examples of how to tackle and respond effectively to harassment, including:

  • definition and examples of harassment and victimisation
  • the effect of harassment in the workplace
  • responsibilities as an employer
  • how to prevent and respond to harassment.
First published 12 August 2021