9th May 2023
Unions and Women’s Groups Warn Government not to Abandon Essential Legislation on Workplace Sexual Harassment.
Several women's groups and unions have written a joint letter to Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, urging the government not to abandon the Worker Protection Bill
Several women's groups and unions have written a joint letter to Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, urging the government not to abandon the Worker Protection Bill, which would introduce a legal duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and protect staff from third party harassment. According to reports, the government may allow the Bill to fall following objections from Conservative backbenchers.
Contents of the Letter
In the letter, campaigners argue that sexual harassment is endemic in the workplace, and new laws are urgently needed to protect working women. They state that half of working women will experience workplace sexual harassment, with even higher rates among LGBT+, disabled, and Black women. Third party harassment is also said to be extensive, with over half of women in the hospitality industry and three in five nurses experiencing sexual harassment while working. The campaigners call for new laws to protect workers from sexual harassment and to drive the culture change necessary to tackle violence against women and other forms of discrimination. They argue that the reforms will force employers to take sexual harassment seriously and take preventative measures to protect workers.
TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “As this letter makes clear – sexual harassment is happening on an industrial scale in workplaces across Britain. The time for excuses is over. We urgently need to strengthen protections to protect workers. The government must come clean about its plans. Will it support this much-needed legislation and help keep women and workers safe from harassment? Or will it cave into the demands from its backbenchers.”
Fawcett Society Chief Executive Jemima Olchawski also calls for a serious commitment from the government to better protect women at work, arguing that it is scandalous that some Tory Peers have sought to play politics with a bill that would offer the first significant increase in protections for women since the #metoo movement. She states: “We need to see a serious commitment from this government to better protect women at work. Women deserve and demand better. It's time for this government to deliver" Campaigners argue that new laws are badly needed to tackle the endemic problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, and that the government must act to protect workers and drive cultural change.
The Fawcett Society is calling on the public to write to their MP asking for them to support the Bill.