In light of recent allegations within the film industry and the resulting outpour of information about sexual harassment in the workplace, it is necessary to look at these incidents from the perspective of an employer, but what do you need to know? How do you prevent or deal with these kinds of sensitive and difficult issues in your workplace?
Although it should not happen in the workplace, sexual harassment is common due to both employers and employees not understanding what can amount to sexual harassment and, in many cases, there being no procedure for employees to follow when it occurs, or allegations not being taken seriously.
The Equality Act 2010 states that sexual harassment is behaviour that is either meant to, or has the effect of violating dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
This can include, for example:
And do not think that sexual harassment only affects women, it can be just as common against men in the workplace.
As employers, you are responsible for preventing harassment, and are liable for any harassment suffered and therefore it is important that your employees are aware of what amounts to sexual harassment, what they can do if subject to harassment, and what steps you will take to prevent and deal with harassment.Many organisations already have policies in place dealing with harassment but these should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they are current and they should, at the very least:
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