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Time to tackle sexual harassment in hospitality

Fresh measures to deal with sexual harassment in hospitality businesses have been published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and UKHospitality.

Fresh measures to deal with sexual harassment in hospitality businesses have been published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and UKHospitality.

They were announced by the EHRC this week amid growing concerns that workplace bullying, and harassment are on the rise.

The new checklist and action plan focusses on communicating with staff, changing the workplace environment, and working practices.

Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, says employers must proactively implement safeguarding measures to protect employees from sexual harassment.

“Sadly, harassment is quite common in the hospitality industry, so employers need to be vigilant and have measures in place to stop it from happening.

“These measures and policies are going to be crucial if we’re going to stamp out harassment in hospitality.

“Any organisation that doesn’t do this can suffer from vicarious liability, meaning employees can be successful in their tribunal claims for harassment or constructive dismissal, even if the misconduct did not directly come from someone in the organisation.”

According to the EHRC, potential trigger points for sexual harassment include deciding on hours for more junior staff and discussing how incentives are distributed.

Hospitality businesses, including pubs and restaurants are advised to ensure more than one person is deciding the rota, make sure that no one is working alone at any one time and that managers know what to do when issues arise.

Employers must also pay more attention to vulnerable staff, including those who don’t speak English as a first language, who are therefore less likely to report something.

Other ways businesses can reduce risk of harassment include policies for anonymous reporting of customer misbehaviour, posters to tell customers that harassment isn’t tolerated, and record any issues with customers.

Employees are being reminded that staff social activities are still associated with the workplace and so a zero-tolerance policy applies.

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