The guidance, “Sexual Harassment and Harassment at Work- Technical Guidance” is aimed at employers, workers and representatives in relation to best practice, effective prevention and response.
The document, albeit lengthy at some 84 pages, contains some interesting statistics as to the impact of harassment in the workplace and includes some good examples of what constitutes harassment and victimisation in respect of the Equality Act 2010.
Most importantly for employers, it sets out obligations and liabilities under the Equality Act 2010 and best practice in terms of preventative steps and responses. The guide helpfully reminds employers that, “an employer will be liable for harassment or victimisation committed by its workers unless they can show they took all reasonable steps to prevent harassment in the workplace”. s109(4) – the “reasonable steps” defence.
One such reasonable step would include having in place effective and well communicated policies and procedures. Any such policy or procedure should be regularly reviewed and updated.
At the time of writing, the guidance document is not statutory, and so the Employment Tribunal are not legally obliged to take it into account. However, it can be referred to in legal proceedings. That being said, it may in due course become a Statutory Code of Practice.
The Guide can be downloaded from the Equality and Human Rights Commission website.
If you have any questions about the content of this blog, or would like to discuss an update to your policies and procedures, please do not hesitate to contact one of our employment law experts.