24th March 2023

Sexual harassment has no place anywhere in our society, let alone in the workplace. 

And yet, 40% of women experience workplace sexual harassment, with that number even higher for disabled women and Black and minoritised women. And that doesn't even begin to account for those cases that go unreported.

Which is why Fawcett is so pleased to see the Worker Protection Bill, brought by Wera Hobhouse MP, pass its second reading in the House of Lords today. 

Fawcett, along with partners from across the women and equalities sector and the trade union movement have campaigned for years to create the change necessary to ensure more protection for women at work. The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill is this protection.

This bill, if enshrined into law, will create a duty for employers to proactively prevent sexual harassment, and take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of employees from third parties, e.g. customers. 

Jemima Olchawski, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, said: 

After years of campaigning, today is a significant milestone for so many women across the country. We are one step closer to securing the necessary changes to tackle the shockingly pervasive culture of workplace sexual harassment. At a minimum, 40% of working women have been subjected to it throughout their lifetime and we know that number is even higher for women of colour, disabled women and LGBTQ+ workers. This Bill, once passed, will mean employers need to take all reasonable steps to stop it from happening in the first place – bringing an end to workplace cultures that tolerate and turn a blind eye to the harassment of their staff.

Wera Hobhouse MP, who brought this Private Members Bill, said:

Sexual harassment is a workplace epidemic. Its cultural acceptance has run unchallenged for too long. Finally, something is being done that can start to address the problem.

This Bill presents an opportunity to shift our culture to one where these behaviours are seen as unacceptable. An opportunity to protect each other from all too familiar actions that can cause so much trauma and hurt. An opportunity for us all to enjoy safe, respectful workplaces.

I am proud to have worked with such a brilliant organisation in the Fawcett Society. They have supported this legislation at every stage and have truly been instrumental in its continued passage.

Today's success is the latest milestone in a long line of work by Fawcett on workplace sexual harassment.