Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace 

By Helen Burrowes

Senior HR Consultant

Over the last year, allegations over sexual harassment in the workplace has been reported within the press. When there are sexual harassment allegations made within a business, this can have a major impact on the individuals involved and also the company’s brand and reputation. 

Under the current Worker Protection Act 2023, there is a duty on employers to take reasonable steps in preventing sexual harassment in respect of their employees during the course of employment. From October 2024, there are changes to The Worker Protection Act 2023. The changes will put more responsibility on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.  

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits harassment:

  • where the employee is subject to unwanted conduct that is of a sexual nature
  • includes unwanted conduct relating to the employees protected characteristic
  • where the employee is subjected to less favourable treatment based on the individuals sex or gender reassignment

It is on the onus of the employer to have acted responsibly to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

What employers can do to ‘prevent sexual harassment’

Creating a culture where employees feel that they can raise disputes without fear, ensures that employees feel that they are working in a ‘safe’ environment free of bullying and harassment. 

Ways to create this culture includes:

1. Having robust processes in place to manage any suspected sexual harassment, dealing with the complaint without unreasonable delay. Policies outlining the processes associated include;

  • Anti bullying and harassment policy
  • Grievance policy
  • Disciplinary policy

Within these policies, procedures clearly outline the steps to raise a concern through the appropriate channels. 

2. Communication is critical in embedding a culture free of discrimination, bullying and harassment. Sanctions are clearly written into policies outlining the implications of any unwanted and unacceptable behaviour.

3. Training line managers, as these stakeholders are key to embedding a harassment free workplace. Training objectives to include:

  • understanding what constitutes bullying and harassment, building manager knowledge of their own behaviours, and to recognise behaviours across the business
  • how to conduct investigations
  • how to manage a grievance process 
  • how to manage procedures: disciplinary, suspension, hearings.

Current legislation requires companies to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment. Lets not wait until October 2024 for the updated legislation, instead start implementing your change programme to have a zero tolerance to sexual harassment.

To discuss implementing this programme into your business, for new policies, and to carry out training within your business, speak to our team of HR Consultants on 0345 6460406 or email