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Half of all women have experienced sexual harassment at work

Emma O'Leary

Fawcett Society looking into the UK’s sex discrimination laws has called for a number of changes to the legal system, including strengthening the laws on sexual harassment at work to protect women from harassment by third parties and extending protection from pregnancy discrimination to 6 months after maternity leave ends. Contributor Emma O’Leary Employment law consultant for the ELAS Group.

The report found that half of all women have experienced sexual harassment at work and calls for employers to take more responsibility and a proactive approach to preventing discrimination and harassment in their workplace.

Maria Miller MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, welcomed today’s report, saying it: “…covers many of the issues we have been investigating, including the gender pay gap, family friendly working rights and sexual harassment. The findings show that there is still significant work to be done in each of these areas.

“We need a revolution in the workplace to ensure fairness for women, men and their families. Closing the gender pay gap, improving take up of shared parental leave and providing more opportunities for flexible working all play an important role as our own reports have found.”

Emma O’Leary is an employment law consultant for the ELAS Group. She says: “We have come a long way since sex discrimination was first recognised formally in legislation in 1975. However, the Fawcett report has revealed that we still have a way to go and that the law does fall down in places that are more likely to prejudice the female work force.

It’s too early to tell whether things like gender pay reporting will eradicate the pay gap but certainly there are other recommendations in the report that would be necessary to ensure women are afforded a greater protection from discrimination at work. It is shocking to see that half of women have experienced a form of sexual harassment at work and therefore a ramping up of our existing harassment law would certainly be welcome.”

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