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The Government, regulators and employers are failing in their responsibilities to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace, says the Women and Equalities Committee.
Following a major inquiry, the Committee finds that sexual harassment at work is widespread and commonplace, but says there has been a failure to tackle unlawful behaviours, despite the Government’s obligations under international law. Employers and regulators have ignored their responsibilities for too long, says the Committee, and often legal protections are not available to workers in practice.
Forty per cent of women and 18% of men have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace, according to a BBC survey.
The report calls on Government to focus on five priorities to put sexual harassment at the top of the agenda for employers:
Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller MP, said: “It is utterly shameful that in 2018, unwanted sexual comments, touching, groping and assault are seen as an everyday occurrence and part of the culture in many workplaces. Government, regulators and employers have been dodging their responsibilities for far too long.
“There is currently little incentive for employers to take robust action. In contrast, there is considerable focus on other corporate governance issues like protecting people’s personal data and preventing money laundering, with stringent requirements on employers and businesses to meet their responsibilities. It’s time to put the same emphasis on tackling sexual harassment.”
On NDAs, she added: “NDAs have their place in settling complaints, but they must not be used to prevent or dissuade victims from reporting incidents as is clearly the case now. We expect proper regulation of NDAs and that any unethical practices lead to strong and appropriate sanctions.”