The guidance promotes a preventative approach

We are all now accustomed to the #MeToo movement which shone the spotlight on workplace harassment.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission have produced a guidance document which places additional responsibility on employers to proactively tackle and manage workplace harassment.

The is not statutory, but similarly to the ACAS Code of Practice on discipline and grievance, tribunals will likely take it into account in harassment cases.

Additionally, the government does still plan to introduce a statutory code of practice and as such the guidance represents a draft version of the code.

The guidance promotes a preventative approach to tackle harassment at work.

Practically, if faced with a harassment claim, employers need to demonstrate what they have done to prevent harassment in the workplace.

In demonstrating such measures, an employer can have a “reasonable steps defence” and can avoid liability for the actions of an employee.

The guidance promotes the following:

  1. Having an anti-harassment policy and enforcing it robustly.
  2. Introduce workplace “harassment champions” to assist in resolving informal issues, risk assess and develop tactical plans for future prevention.
  3. Developing an open culture to encourage individuals to report issues and even intervene.
  4. Set out steps to deal with third party harassment complaints.
  5. Consider setting out strategic action plans to prevent different types of harassment.
  6. Create a central record of harassment complaints and the identification of trends in order to feed into preventative measures.
  7. Address policies relating to the disclosure of information relating to harassment complaints specifically around informing a complainant about steps taken against the harasser.
  8. Review training for managers and staff.

The guidance document can be found at Sexual harassment and harassment at work: technical guidance.

 

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