Understanding October's new sexual harassment law
Jul 2024
Employment Law & HR

Understanding October's new sexual harassment law

Sarah Furness, Partner - Employment Law & HR

It is clear the current law on sexual harassment is not sufficient for protecting employees. A recent TUC poll found that 58% of women have experienced sexual harassment at work with 43% of women having experienced it on at least three separate occasions.

Under the current law, employers can be liable for sexual harassment carried out by their employees unless they show they took ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent it. While it's advisable for employers to take proactive measures, there is no strict legal requirement.

As of 26th October 2024, employers must take “reasonable steps” to prevent the sexual harassment of their employees during their employment. The new law places a strict legislative and pro-active duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

Employees will be able to bring a claim for a breach of this new duty if they also bring a claim against their employer for sexual harassment in an Employment Tribunal. In successful cases, the Employment Tribunal will be able to uplift all compensation awarded by up to 25% if an employer is found to have breached this new duty.

An employer’s pocket may not be the only thing to take a hit from a successful claim with reputational damage being a likely outcome. There will of course also be ramifications for the employer’s culture and workforce morale.

Whilst the new law is unhelpfully silent on what would be regarded by an Employment Tribunal as taking “reasonable steps,” we will discuss our recommendations at our free seminar on 26th September. Sign up here.

if you have any questions in the meantime, get in touch with Sarah.

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