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FDR HR Clinic - Harassment at Work

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Kerry Mercer, HR Advisor at FDR HR discuss Harassment in the Workplace and what Employers can do to prevent it happening
Q: How can I prevent Harassment in the Workplace?
A: Harassment is not just confined to the Entertainment world, as we have seen in the recent media reports.
A poll by Opinium Research has revealed that one in five women said that they have been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, demonstrating that the problem is more widespread and is across all types of professions and industries.
Whilst such inappropriate behaviour has been unlawful in the workplace for many years these latest developments may inspire victims of sexual advances and harassment to come forward.  This, coupled with the abolition of tribunal fees may increase tribunal claims.
Unlawful behaviour or harassment in the workplace by an employee in the course of their employment may be treated as being committed by the employer.  Companies are ‘vicariously’ liable for such acts by one employee against another.  Forms of harassment include:
  • Unwanted conduct related to sex or conduct of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of violating that person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them; and
  • Less favourable treatment because the employee has rejected or submitted to such conduct.
  • Conduct can be any unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature and can include unwelcome sexual advances, touching, forms of sexual assault, sexual jokes, displaying pornographic photographs or drawings or sending emails with material of a sexual nature.

In order to prevent Harassment in your workplace, employers should:

  • Carry out Equality and Diversity Training, Bullying and Harassment training - outline what is unacceptable behaviour at work and make this available to managers as well
  • Set down clear policies on Equal Opportunities and Bullying and Harassment – ensure these are easily accessible and communicated out to all employees
  • Investigate fully all complaints brought to your attention
  • Take formal disciplinary action where appropriate
For HR advice, support and training contact Kerry Mercer at FDR Law on 01925 230000 or email Kerry.mercer@fdrlaw.co.uk