The main findings of the Report are:
The main findings of the consultation were that many were supportive of a new duty to prevent harassment, and believed that it would prompt employers to take positive steps.
Consultees highlighted the complexity of introducing protections from third-party harassment without the need for an incident to have occurred, but were generally supportive of employers being able to use the defence of having taken all ‘reasonable steps’, which already exists in the Act.
On extending protections for volunteers and interns, while respondents were supportive of the proposal in principle, many raised concerns about the impact this could potentially have on the third sector, particularly the effect of administrative burden on smaller charities.
Finally, on extending time limits, the impact of trauma arising from experiencing sexual harassment was a common theme across responses, as was the potential barrier to justice that the current limit could create, notably in instances of pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
and the Response is:
Following this consultation, the government intends to introduce a duty requiring employers to prevent sexual harassment, as we believe that this will encourage employers into taking positive proactive steps to make the workplace safer for everyone.
Additionally, in the interests of providing clarity, we will introduce explicit protections from third-party harassment.
On extending the protections under the Act to volunteers and interns, we believe that many of the latter group would already be protected, and that extending protections to the former could have undesirable consequences.
Finally, we recognise the impact that extending time limits could have for those bringing sexual harassment cases and that 3 months can be a short timeframe. Therefore, we will look closely at extending the time limit for bringing Equality Act 2010 based cases to the employment tribunal from 3 months to 6 months. All of the commitments made as a result of this consultation will apply to Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). Those which require legislative changes will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.
This package of measures will not only strengthen protections for those affected by harassment at work, but will also motivate employers to make improvements to workplace practices and culture which will benefit all employees. As debate about the future of the workplace proceeds in the light of the last year’s developments, these steps will ensure that whatever it looks like, people feel safe and supported to thrive.
The full report can be found here