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The Women and Equalities Commission (a parliamentary committee) has produced its report on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.
The report makes the following recommendations ;
Employers must have a mandatory duty to protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. This can be enforced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, with failure punished by fines.
Public sector employers must have a duty to conduct risk assessment for sexual harassment and take steps to mitigate any risks.
Reintroduce third party harassment, so that employers are liable if they have failed to take reasonable steps to prevent others harassing their staff
Extend sexual harassment protection to interns and volunteers.
Extend the time limit for bringing an employment tribunal claim to six months, with the clock paused while any internal grievance process is going on.
Allow employment tribunals to award punitive damages in sexual harassment cases and create a presumption of costs. This way employers will have to pay employee’s legal costs if they lose a sexual harassment case.
Limit the ability to use confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements to ‘government approved’ standard clauses.
Make it a professional disciplinary offence for lawyers (and, in certain circumstances, also a criminal offence for the employer and the lawyer) to propose the use of a non-approved confidentiality clause.