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Law update and advice

BHETA partners with Ellis Whittam to advise on latest sexual harassment legislation.

BHETA associate member, Ellis Whittam says that too few employers are taking the necessary proactive steps to address the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. In the light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, a recent UK survey by law firm, Slater and Gordon has uncovered that 52% of employees questioned believe that their employer has not taken any measures to address the issue and 56% were not aware of a policy regarding sexual harassment in their company. Most worryingly of all, 20% of respondents commented that this type of conduct was “the norm” and 70% did not report instances of harassment.

The Government has announced it will introduce a statutory Code of Practice on sexual harassment, making clear the action employers need to take to comply with their legal obligations. This follows a July 2018 Women & Equalities Committee report calling for the establishment of a mandatory duty on employers to protect employees from sexual harassment, and the introduction of a statutory code of practice on sexual harassment which should lay down what employers are required to do.

The resulting Government twelve point plan addresses non-disclosure agreements and third party harassment, additional protection is needed for volunteers and interns and a possible extension to the time limit for submitting claims to Employment Tribunals. The Government is also looking at the evidence base for a legal duty imposed on employers to stop employees from being harassed as well as data gathering on the pervasiveness of workplace sexual harassment.

In the light of the above, Ellis Whittam’s top tips for BHETA members are as follows:

  • Develop and promote a working environment where employees are encouraged to report any cases of sexual harassment
  • Have all the right HR policies and procedures in place. Seek legal advice when drafting your codes of conduct, grievance procedure, bullying and harassment procedure and all other appropriate HR policies
  • Train your managers so they understand how all internal policies and procedures work
  • Take allegations of sexual harassment seriously and act when issues arise.

To discuss further, contact BHETA on 01244 688420 or email

For more information about BHETA membership, contact the Member Services Team on 0121 237 1130.

Source: BHETA
January 2019


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