With the media spotlight firmly on sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, following allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein and others, tackling such misconduct is high on the political agenda. The Women and Equalities Committee has now launched a full investigation into sexual harassment in the workplace.
On 13 February 2018, Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee launched a full investigation into sexual harassment in the workplace. Its inquiry will consider what should be done to tackle harassment more effectively. The inquiry’s remit includes looking at:
- how staff can be better protected from sexual harassment by clients, customers and others,
- action that the Government and employers can take to change workplace culture and increase confidence to report problems,
- how effective and accessible employment tribunals and other legal means of redress are, and what improvements could be made to those systems,
- 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.
The inquiry will run until 13 March 2018. The Committee is then likely to publish its recommendations which the government will need to consider and respond to.
The Government has itself has been the subject of scrutiny recently regarding the behaviour of ministers; several resigned over allegations of inappropriate behaviour and, subsequently, the harassment section in the Code of Conduct for Ministers was been beefed up. While the current Parliamentary inquiry is unlikely to result in any quick changes (to the law or workplace culture), employers need to get their own house in order, as staff become more aware of their rights in this area and societal pressure to stamp out sexual harassment in the workplace increases.