Harassment in the workplace
Effective 7 March 2023
The UK ratified the International Labour Organisation’s Violence and Harassment Convention on 7 March 2022. It will come into force on this date in 2023.
This is a first-of-its-kind global common framework for action to eradicate workplace violence and harassment.
In parallel, the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill was introduced by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse as a Private Members’ Bill in June 2022.
The purpose of the Bill is to protect employees from third party sexual harassment in the workplace by imposing new duties on employees.
It has passed its first and second readings and committee stage without amendment and with cross party support. It is likely to become law later this year.
Amendment under review
An amendment is currently being considered due to concerns the Bill may result in the repression of free speech – but this is yet to go through.
The amendment will set a ceiling on what can be considered reasonable steps for an employer.
Employers would not be liable for acts which would normally amount to harassment but where the conduct occurs in a conversation in which:
- an individual is not a participant
- an individual is not the object of the conversation
- the speaker is expressing an opinion on a political, moral, religious or social matter
- the opinion is not offensive
- there is no intent to violate dignity
Note the amendment would not apply to sexual harassment.