Thu 09 Nov 2023

Employer duty to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace in force in 2024

New duty for employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act ("the Act") has received Royal Assent and is now law.  When it comes into force in October next year employers will, for the first time, be required to take reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment of their employees.  This is a very welcome step forward in statutory protections in the workplace, albeit many remain disappointed that, after amendments made in the House of Lords, the overall impact of the Act has been somewhat diluted.  Originally it was intended that the legislation would re-introduce employer liability for third party harassment in the workplace.

The duty to prevent sexual harassment that will come into effect in October 2024 has also been watered down to some extent, the duty now being for employers to take "reasonable steps" rather than "all reasonable steps" to prevent sexual harassment taking place.   In practice this change means an employer will not be found to have breached the duty just because they have not taken every step they could have, as long as they can prove they have taken reasonable steps to prevent the harassment occurring.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission ("EHRC") will be able to enforce the new duty and employment tribunals will be able to award an uplift of up to 25% to an employee's compensation where it is found that a breach has taken place.

The EHRC developed technical guidance on sexual harassment and harassment at work that was published in 2020.  At that time the EHRC stated they expected the guidance to become a statutory code of practice in due course.  Concurrent with the Act receiving Royal Assent in October, the EHRC announced that its technical guidance will be updated to reflect the duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace introduced by the Act. The guidance will be subject to full consultation and will set out the steps employers should take to comply with the new law. 


Make an Enquiry

From our offices we serve the whole of Scotland, as well as clients around the world with interests in Scotland. Please complete the form below, and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

Morton Fraser MacRoberts LLP will use the information you provide to contact you about your inquiry. The information is confidential. For more information on our privacy practices please see our Privacy Notice