Government Survey To Help Tackle Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has called for victims of sexual harassment to share their stories in an aim to strengthen protections for employees from sexual harassment.

The survey, one of the largest of its kind, will go out to over 12,000 people and help build a picture of how many people are affected by sexual harassment. The survey also asks for people to share their experiences, both inside and outsider the workplace of any forms of sexual harassment.

Minister for Women, Victoria Atkins, said:

“Sexual harassment is wrong and survivors must be able to share their stories. This survey will help us build a clear picture of who is affected and where. Working together with business, we can stamp it out.”

Research done by ComRes for the BBC in 2017, claimed that 40% of women and 18% of men have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at some time in their working career.

Along with the survey, the GEO has created a package of commitments to tackle sexual harassment at work, including a new statutory Code of Practice, from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), to help employers better understand their legal responsibilities and duties. The package also includes a consultation on plans to tackle harassment at work, including legal protections for workers who experience harassment from customers.

The Code of Practice from the EHRC had a draft version released last week, advising employers how to ensure their workplace was safe from sexual harassment.

The survey will go out to people in the whole of the UK.

As well as this survey, the government also conducted a consultation that ended in October 2019, that asked for views on how to strengthen laws that would protect people against harassment in the Equality Act 2010. The recommendations are due to be published in the spring.

The latest Government move has been welcomed by many equality charities and organisations.

Andrew Bazeley, from Fawcett Society, a woman’s rights charity, said he “welcomed this step” in tackling sexual harassment.

“Our engagement with women finds that they want to see real changes that build on the momentum of the #MeToo campaign.

“We need to move away from putting the onus on individual women, by putting a mandatory duty on employers to prevent harassment.”

However, Jenn Selby, Great London Assembly Candidate for the Women’s Equality Party, feels the Government needed to ensure it followed through.

“Many survivors are familiar with the feeling of being encouraged to speak out and report their experiences, only.

“It’s therefore really important that the government follows through with their promises and ensures that the new Code of Practice and the upcoming consultation are as rigorous and effective as possible.

“Because all women should have the right to live and work free from harassment and abuse.”

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