Legislation exists to protect employees from sexual misconduct, and therefore employers should be doing everything they reasonably can to implement this security.
Unfortunately, companies like CBI have failed to do this, resulting in widespread anxiety within society due to the risk of being victim to abuse.
CBI is the UK’s premier business organisation, with huge companies forming their membership panel. Recently, they have been slammed with serious allegations of rape and sexual harassment.
Earlier this month, it came to light that a female employee was allegedly raped at one of CBI’s summer parties in 2019.
Unfortunately, the scandal does not stop there, as more claims transpire from incidents such as stalking, harassment, and assault.
Major pharmaceutical companies, retailers, car manufacturers and FTSE 100 businesses, and more see no other option but to cease their relationship with CBI immediately. The government has suspended all activity within the CBI pending the outcome of investigations arising from said allegations.
Advice to employers
Under the Equality Act 2010, sexual harassment is unlawful. Employers can be vicariously liable for sexual harassment carried out by their employees. This not only stands within the workplace, but this liability also expands to work-related events.
The Health and Safety Act 1974 provides that employers have a duty to ensure that their staff are safe at work. This includes ensuring that they’re not exposed to risks of work-related violence, which certainly include sexual misconduct.
Employers must ensure that they are taking all reasonable steps to prevent sexual misconduct from happening. Reasonable steps such as clear work policies, regular training, and reminders to staff of their obligations and professional standards of conduct are recommended and expected from employers.
When faced with a claim being brought against them, employers must be able to show that they have taken reasonable steps in order to defend themselves.
A lot of the time, sexual misconduct happens at work-related events, especially when alcohol is involved. It is important that staff are reminded prior to such events that they are still bound by their contractual duties, as employers are still bound by their legislative duties to prevent such misconduct from happening.
How Attwells can help with employment law issues
Hannah is a Paralegal who works in Attwells’ Employment Law Team. Should you have any queries in relation to any of the issues discussed in this article or indeed any other employment law issues, please do not hesitate to contact Hannah on 01206 239757.