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Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill receives Royal Assent

The Bill places a duty on employers to take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

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Published 1 November 2023

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On the 26th October 2023, the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill received Royal Assent and will come into force exactly one year later.

The Bill places a duty on employers to take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. This duty will sit alongside other sexual harassment protections in the Equality Act 2010.

The Bill was originally drafted to place a duty on employers to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment, however the Bill was amended in the House of Lords to remove the word ‘all’. There is concern that the amendment will in effect place a more narrow or lesser duty on employers who will only have to ‘reasonable steps’ to protect employees against sexual harassment, rather than to take ‘all’ reasonable steps.

However, within this amendment, Employment Tribunals have been granted the power to increase any compensation given to an employee by an uplift of up to 25% if the employer breaches this new duty. This will likely place pressure on employers to ensure they are performing their duty and taking the required reasonable steps to protect employees.

Further guidance will be required by employers before the Bill comes into force, to ensure that employers understand what is expected of them to meet the threshold. However, it is likely that employers will need to review their sexual harassment and equality policies in light of this new duty, and will need to consider what ongoing or additional training staff will need. Such training will need to be regular and meaningful.

Employers will also need to ensure they maintain accurate and detailed records of training and their other efforts to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment, so if they are faced with an Employment Tribunal claim they can demonstrate they have fulfilled their duty. Lastly, during the Bill’s passage through parliament, the House of Lords refused the reintroduction of an employer’s liability for harassment by third parties.

For more information, please visit our Employment Lawyers page.

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Shorter Reads

Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill receives Royal Assent

The Bill places a duty on employers to take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

Published 1 November 2023

Associated sectors / services

Authors

On the 26th October 2023, the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill received Royal Assent and will come into force exactly one year later.

The Bill places a duty on employers to take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. This duty will sit alongside other sexual harassment protections in the Equality Act 2010.

The Bill was originally drafted to place a duty on employers to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment, however the Bill was amended in the House of Lords to remove the word ‘all’. There is concern that the amendment will in effect place a more narrow or lesser duty on employers who will only have to ‘reasonable steps’ to protect employees against sexual harassment, rather than to take ‘all’ reasonable steps.

However, within this amendment, Employment Tribunals have been granted the power to increase any compensation given to an employee by an uplift of up to 25% if the employer breaches this new duty. This will likely place pressure on employers to ensure they are performing their duty and taking the required reasonable steps to protect employees.

Further guidance will be required by employers before the Bill comes into force, to ensure that employers understand what is expected of them to meet the threshold. However, it is likely that employers will need to review their sexual harassment and equality policies in light of this new duty, and will need to consider what ongoing or additional training staff will need. Such training will need to be regular and meaningful.

Employers will also need to ensure they maintain accurate and detailed records of training and their other efforts to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment, so if they are faced with an Employment Tribunal claim they can demonstrate they have fulfilled their duty. Lastly, during the Bill’s passage through parliament, the House of Lords refused the reintroduction of an employer’s liability for harassment by third parties.

For more information, please visit our Employment Lawyers page.

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