Greetings and welcome back to your monthly employment law update; all the month’s big stories rolled into a tedious one email that will see you through your Friday morning. Last week we had a double case law update covering tribunal procedure and limitation dates. Last month’s update had features on NDAs and injury to feelings awards.
Sexual harassment has been an issue that both society and employers have been keen to crack down on following the reality dawning revelations of the #MeToo movement. Whether it be a clamp down on NDAs, implementing better reporting procedures or simply trying to change the culture of the institution, many places of work are trying to address the deep underlying issues that allowed sexual harassment to become prevalent in some workplaces.
However, reports this month show that the NHS and Lloyds London are still rife with instances of harassment. In the NHS, 8% of staff reported that they had experienced sexual harassment in the last year. Of those who said they had been harassed, a third of them said it was frequent or weekly harassment. The survey found that the harassment ranged from inappropriate comments and jokes to more severe acts including groping and three rapes – which is a high proportion given 8,000 staff were surveyed.
If these results were extrapolated across the 1.5 million people employed by the NHS then around 120,000 people would have been subjected to sexual harassment this year – equivalent to the population of Ipswich. Going further 37 thousand have been harassed on a regular or weekly basis – equivalent to the population of Newark. As this is just one large UK employer, it is easy to see that we are a long way from eradicating harassment.
One common reason why harassment culture can become entrenched or tolerated is because victims are harassed by superiors or their superiors turn a blind eye. This month it was reported that senior executives at Lloyds had been involved in groping incidents and the stalking of a junior employee. A further executive was found to have sent sexually suggestive messages by email to junior colleagues.
When people at the very top of an organisation behave in such a way, it naturally filters down the business to subordinates who think the behaviour is acceptable. Lloyds has since set up a confidential reporting line to try and tackle the issue.