Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment has been one of the biggest employment law issues over the past 12-18 months. Following the MeToo movement, women are increasingly and rightly standing up to harassment issues both in work and day-to-day life.

The Women and Equalities Commission has published its report on the issue that has made several recommendations to reduce instances of sexual harassment and encourage an environment were women are able to report sexual harassment. These include:

  • Extending the limitation period for harassment claims from three to six months with the clock being stopped for any grievance process. Victims of more severe harassment often take more than three months to confront the issue. Whilst limitation periods can normally be extended in just and equitable circumstances, this would eliminate the uncertainty.
  • Enabling ETs to allow costs to follow the event in successful harassment claims. Ordinarily costs are not payable in the ET and this would allow victims greater access to justice.
  • Extending harassment protection to interns and volunteers.  Many victims are those in the most junior and least secure positions who are at the whim of their superior.
  • Restricting the wording of confidentiality clauses to a set template with professional and potentially criminal sanctions for those who ignore the restrictions.

How many of these will become law remains to be seen but, unlike the gig economy, dress code and many other reports, it is nice to see a proactive stance being taken to tackle the issue rather than wishy-washy statements.