The Fawcett Society has long campaigned for the Government to strengthen sexual harassment laws.

Now, the Government is consulting on how to strengthen the laws on sexual harassment at work & whether employers should have legal responsibility to prevent harassment at work.

What area are the government consulting on?

The Government is consulting on these four areas:

  1. How best to make sure employers take all the steps they can to prevent harassment from happening
  2. Strengthening and clarifying the law so it’s clear employers should protect their staff from being harassed by clients, customers, or other people from outside their organisation
  3. Whether interns and volunteers are adequately protected by current laws and
  4. Whether people should be given longer to take a harassment, discrimination or victimisation claim to an Employment Tribunal

How does the law define sexual harassment right now?

The law defines sexual harassment in the workplace as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which violates your dignity, creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. This can happen in a number of ways, including:

  • Written or verbal comments of a sexual nature
  • Comments about your appearance, questions about your sex life or offensive jokes
  • Displaying pornographic or explicit images
  • Emails with content of a sexual nature
  • Unwanted physical contact or touching
  • Sexual assault 

We know that Fawcett supporters care deeply about this issue, which is why you should have your say

The Fawcett Society has long campaigned for the Government to strengthen sexual harassment laws and now the Government is consulting.

This is your opportunity to make your voices heard. 

What has Fawcett's work been on this issue?

In 2018 Fawcett published the Sex Discrimination Law Review, a landmark review assessing whether equality law in the UK is fit for purpose. You can read the report here 

In February 2019, we published our report on Sexual Harassment in Parliament: protecting MPs, peers, volunteers and staff which demonstrated how glaring gaps in Legislation leave Parliament “Above the Law” on sexual harassment.

In June we joined forces with a number of other unions, charities and women’s rights groups as part of the This is Not Working alliance which launched a petition calling for a new law to make lawyers prevent sexual harassment in their workplaces. 

Under current law there is no legal duty on employers to take proactive action to prevent harassment happening in their workplaces. Instead, the onus is on the victim of the sexual harassment to report it to their employer after it has happened.

Fawcett runs the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Sex Equality, a cross-party group of MPs and peers, and provides a forum for discussing sex equality and associated issues.

Following the group’s meeting in January looking at sexual harassment in the workplace it became clear that women in the hospitality industry are at particular risk, with many employers failing to protect staff.