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  • International Workplace
  • 21 February 2018
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Sexual harassment in the workplace: full inquiry launched

The Women and Equalities Committee has launched a full inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace and is now inviting submissions of written evidence.

Following its one-off evidence session of 31 January on sexual harassment in the workplace, the new inquiry will consider in more depth some of the issues raised.

As well as assessing the extent of the problem, who the perpetrators are and why it happens, the inquiry will focus on what should be done to tackle harassment more effectively.

Issues it will look at include:

  • action that the government and employers can take to change workplace culture, increase confidence to report problems, and make tackling harassment a higher priority;
  • how staff can be better protected from sexual harassment by clients, customers and others;
  • how effective – and accessible – tribunals and other legal means of redress are, and what improvements could be made to those systems; and
  • the pros and cons of using non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in sexual harassment cases, and what can be done to prevent inappropriate use of NDAs.

Committee Chair, Maria Miller MP, said:

"Over the past few months there have been widespread reports of women’s appalling experiences of sexual harassment at work. Our recent evidence session with legal experts, employee and employer representatives painted a stark picture.

“Clearly much more needs to be done, both by government and employers: this inquiry is about identifying solutions. We need to change workplace culture, keep women safe and provide effective legal remedies.

“We also need to understand whether non-disclosure agreements are being abused by legal experts and employers to cover up wrongdoing. The Committee would welcome evidence on how best to tackle these problems, currently faced by thousands of people at work." 

The Committee is now inviting written evidence specifically on:

  • how widespread sexual harassment in the workplace is, and whether this has increased or decreased over time;
  • who experiences sexual harassment in the workplace, who perpetrates it and what the impact is on different groups;
  • actions that the government and employers should be taking to change workplace culture to prevent sexual harassment, give people more confidence to report sexual harassment, and make this issue a higher priority for employers;
  • how workers can be better protected from sexual harassment by clients, customers and other third parties;
  • the effectiveness and accessibility of tribunals and other legal means of redress and what can be done to improve those processes; and
  • the advantages and disadvantages of using non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases, including how inappropriate use of such agreements might be tackled.

The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 13 March 2018.