The United Kingdom will create a new statutory code of practice addressing sexual harassment in the workplace, the government confirmed in response to a parliamentary committee report published in July 2018. The code will be developed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Highlights of the government's response include the following:
- The amount of compensation that tribunals could award to victims of sexual harassment will not increase but the government will keep it under review. The parliamentary committee had proposed a 25% increase in compensation awards.
- Employers would have to take "all reasonable steps" to prevent workplace harassment. The government said that it will consult on the need to include a mandate that employers protect their workers from harassment.
- The government will work with regulators "for whom sexual harassment is particularly relevant," and with employers to raise awareness of individual rights, including harassment protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual people.
- The whistleblowing law would be amended to make the Equality and Human Rights Commission a "prescribed person" to whom whistleblowing disclosures can be made.
The government will open consultations on:
- Appropriate enforcement measures
- Regulation of the use of nondisclosure agreements in workplace harassment situations with the aim of ensuring that workers cannot abrogate their rights
- Steps to clarify and strengthen the laws on harassment by third parties (Employers "should have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to protect their staff from third party harassment where they know that their staff are at risk.")
- The protection of interns and volunteers
- Possible extension of the time limit for bringing claims of workplace harassment and discrimination to six months, up from three