Understand the latest guidance on preventing sexual harassment at work.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published comprehensive guidance on preventing sexual harassment and harassment at work.
It has been developed to:
- Give employers an understanding of their legal responsibilities, the steps they should take to prevent harassment taking place, and what they should do if it occurs;
- Help workers to understand the law and their employer’s responsibilities;
- Help lawyers and other advisers to support their clients; and
- Give employment tribunals and other courts clear guidance on the law and best practice.
The guidance is “the authoritative and comprehensive guide to the law and best practice in tackling harassment”, but it is not a statutory code. This means that employment tribunals are not obliged to take the guide into account when determining claims for harassment or victimisation, and they don’t currently have the power to order any uplift in compensation for a failure to follow the information in the guide. The guide can, however, be used as evidence in legal proceedings and employment tribunals may refer to it when determining an employer’s liability or otherwise for an act of harassment or victimisation.
EHRC recommend that employers take 7 key steps for preventing and dealing with harassment and sexual harassment at work:
- Develop an effective anti-harassment policy
- Engage your staff
- Assess and take steps to reduce risks in your workplace
- Know what to do if a complaint is made
- Know how to deal with third-parties.
What does this mean for my co-op?
The guidance is relevant to all employers, regardless of size, and will apply equally to co-ops as to other types of organisation. We recommend that you read and familiarise yourself with the guide, to refresh your understanding of your responsibilities. We also recommend that you review your current practices and consider the steps you can reasonably take to prevent harassment at your workplace and towards your employees/members.
Remember that the steps that are reasonable for you to take will vary depending on your size and available resources, but this does not mean that if you are a small co-op it is appropriate to do nothing. As a bare minimum all co-ops should have a clear anti-harassment policy and procedure and all employees/members should be aware of this policy, what that means in practice, and what they can do if they experience harassment at work.