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Protect welcomes new mandatory duty on employers preventing workplace harassment

New government plans to introduce a mandatory duty requiring employers to prevent harassment in the workplace have been welcomed by Protect.

This duty will mean that employers must take all reasonable steps to protect employees from sexual and other forms of harassment at work. The government has also announced an intention to reintroduce protection against harassment from third parties, such as customers, clients, suppliers or members of the public.

The changes were announced by the government last week (see here), following a public consultation in 2019.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has welcomed the duty and said its ‘Turning the Tables‘ report, published in 2018, advised the Government to introduce a mandatory duty and extend the time limits for bringing a case to Employment Tribunal.

The Government has said it will “look closely at” extending the time limit for bringing Equality Act 2010 based cases to the Employment Tribunal from three months to six months.

Protect’s campaign, Let’s Fix UK Whistleblowing Law, shares this view and also calls for a time extension to Employment Tribunals and a legal duty on employers to prevent victimisation of whistleblowers.

CEO Liz Gardiner said, “Protect welcomes this new positive duty to prevent harassment and hopes that a similar duty to prevent victimisation of whistleblowers will follow.  We’re pleased too that the Government is considering extending ET time limits – something we’ve called for in our draft bill.  Six months to bring a claim seems reasonable considering that many cases are not heard for over a year.  Such a change will help improve access to justice, particularly for whistleblowers bringing claims without legal representation”.

* On October 7, Protect is holding a “Masterclass: Handling sexual harassment & whistleblowing concerns in the workplace” training session aimed at senior individuals, including HR, Compliance, Legal and Audit roles, responsible for internal arrangements and whistleblowing culture.

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