Good to hear that Liberal Democrat MP for Bath Wera Hobhouse has cleared the final legislative hurdle to pass the Worker Protection Bill into law.
The Bill, introduced by Mrs Hobhouse, will give protections to employees from sexual harassment in the workplace.
- The Bill introduces a preventative duty on employers to proactively stop workplace harassment, instead of relying on individual employees to report incidents
- It comes in the wake of sexual harassment scandals and allegations involving organisations such as the CBI and has been heavily supported by women’s rights organisations such as the Fawcett Society
- The Bill cleared its final hearing in the House of Commons. There are no further obstacles to the Bill receiving Royal Assent, at which point it will be formally adopted as law.
The Bill makes employers liable to their employees if they have not taken reasonable steps to prevent harassment. Shocking figures from the House of Commons Library have revealed that one in five people have experience sexual harassment in the workplace every year.
In 2018, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that organisations do not have effective processes in place to deal with these issues. Only a minority of employers had effective processes to prevent and address sexual harassment, with the consequence that 79 per cent of women do not report sexual harassment in the workplace.
Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, commented:
“Harassment in the workplace is a blight on society. It is widespread, it ruins lives and impacts effective working relationships in all walks of life. Not a week goes by without revelations of inappropriate behaviour in an organisation somewhere in the UK.
“My Bill presents an opportunity to shift the culture in our workplaces where harassment is no longer tolerated. It will create a duty on employers to prevent harassment from happening and should bring about a long-term change in attitudes.
“I am proud to have worked alongside brilliant organisations such as the Fawcett Society and the wider Alliance for Women, who continue to support this Bill because of the substantial difference it will make to workers’ lives.
“I am also grateful to the Minister for Women for her support, and to Baroness Burt, who worked tirelessly to steer this Bill through the Lords.
“Employees should not have to wait any longer for safe and respectful workplaces. The passage of this Bill will send a clear signal that such behaviour is unacceptable, and that we take the protections of employees seriously.”
Wera Hobhouse’s Bill can be found here.
The House of Commons Library research is reported here.