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#MeToo in the Workplace – Where are we now?

Valentine’s day is a day for sharing the love but should you share it in the workplace?

It’s been more than two years since the investigation into the sexual misdeeds of Harvey Weinstein unleashed the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Employer’s obligations

Employers have a duty of care to protect their workers and will be liable for harassment in the workplace if they have not taken reasonable steps to prevent it.

What are reasonable steps?

In the wake of the #Me Too movement, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued new guidance on dealing with sexual harassment, which illustrate what reasonable steps will look like.  Their recommendations include:

  • Having an effective and well communicated anti-harassment policy in place which aims to prevent harassment;
  • Monitoring and reviewing policies and procedures to ensure they are successful in preventing harassment;
  • Providing training to workers which addresses each type of harassment;
  • Raising awareness of what to do if workers experience harassment and how to deal with harassment complaints; and
  • Assessing risks relating to harassment including control measures to minimise such risks (for example: power imbalances; job insecurity and lone working).

Already have a policy?

Is your  current policy fit for purpose?  Although the Employment Tribunal is not obliged to follow the EHRC guidance….yet, we are likely to see it referred to in cases of harassment going forwards.  Also, it is well established in the Employment Tribunal that having a policy in place is not enough.  What measures have you put in place to implement, communicate and monitor the policy will also be a consideration.   

Building sustainable businesses

LexLeyton are passionate about helping clients build sustainable businesses.  Pivotal to that is ensuring that clients have the right policies and procedures in place to suit the businesses cultural context whilst also ensuring risk mitigation by assisting clients in taking “all reasonable steps”.

We have seen first-hand the benefit of inclusion in the workplace, a starting point of which is the employer’s stance on inclusion issues and the policies that it has and lives by.

What to do now?

We recommend reading the EHRC guidance as it is extremely comprehensive.  There is also a shorter guide aimed at employers specifically.  Consider the implications of the guidance and does your anti-harassment policy do enough. If you have any concerns or would like an expert opinion our specialist employment lawyers are happy to help.

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