We are currently working on a project to deliver sexual harassment training to a number of charities. We are writing policies and procedures and will be supporting the organisations with the implementation.
Harassment is traditionally thought of as sexual harassment, but it doesn’t have to be. Employees can be harassed based on their age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, race, religion etc.
Even if just looking at sexual harassment in the workplace, there tends to be an assumption that this is a male manager harassing a female employee, and again it doesn’t have to be! There is an increasing number of men reporting sexual harassment and the LGBT community are reporting increasing levels of sexual harassment as this article from the BBC explores.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to ensure that harassment is not tolerated in your workplace. You are legally obliged to ensure that everyone feels safe and that the workplace is a great place to be. What some see as Banter, is often offensive to others and perceived as harassment by others.
Some simple steps for you to follow:
- Ensure you have a zero tolerance policy towards harassment in your workplace
- Have a clearly documented policy stating what is not acceptable and the implications of a breach of this policy
- Create a culture in which employees feel able to report harassment in confidence
- Create a culture in which employees will speak up for and protect each other against harassment
- Provide training and support to all employees so they know what is not acceptable, what is expected and how to report breaches
Failure to follow these steps could result in an Employment Tribunal claim.
In all businesses, you need to think about harassment from or towards not only employees, but customers, suppliers, volunteers, trustees and / or any other third parties including those you might share an office with.