The TUC has made an impassioned plea to the government to introduce a new law to make employers responsible for protecting their staff from sexual harassment at work, at its annual LGBT+ conference.
TUC analysis published in May found that nearly 7 in 10 (68%) lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people reported being sexually harassed at work.
- Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) of those who experienced sexual harassment said it had a negative impact on their working life:
- Around 1 in 6 (16%) said they left their job as a result of the sexual harassment
- A fifth (20%) said it made them feel less confident at work
- Around 1 in 7 (14%) said it caused them to avoid certain work situations – like meetings, courses, locations, and particular shifts – in order to avoid the person who was harassing them
- Nearly 1 in 3 (31%) said the harassment made them feel embarrassed at work.
Under current law, there is no legal duty on employers to take proactive action to prevent harassment happening in their workplaces. It's left up to the victims of sexual harassment to report it to their employer after it has happened. Two-thirds of LGBT people who’ve been sexually harassed don’t report it to their employer. One in four of those who didn’t report were silenced by their fear of being ‘outed’ at work.
The new duty proposed by the TUC would be supported by a code of practice, explaining exactly what steps bosses need to take to prevent sexual harassment – such as carrying out mandatory training for staff and managers and having clear policies.
Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, backed the TUC campaign. He said: "No one should be harassed or discriminated against on account of their sexuality. Were the TUC measures adopted they would rightly protect LGBT+ workers but also all workers. I want to reassure our LGBT+ members that our union is 100 percent behind these sensible proposals from the TUC and urge them to come forward to us if they suffer any form of harassment. Together we are strong!"
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s a scandal that so many people experience sexual harassment while just trying to do their jobs. We’ve got to put a stop to this once and for all. Too many LGBT+ people are being sexually harassed at work and suffering in silence."