National awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace continues to dominate political attention, as two recent stories suggest.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to crack down on what he referred to as the “scourge” of sexual harassment during a speech to a recent union conference. Mr Corbyn is also promoting a ban on non-disclosure agreements in settlements of claims for sexual harassment.
Corbyn has also stated that under a Labour government, he would make it compulsory for bosses to reveal their anti-harassment policies. The party will also be looking to double the time frame for how long after an incident that an employment tribunal could be brought.
The House of Commons women and equalities select committee have also been told by employment specialists that the limit for the pursuit of sexual harassment claims is too short.
As with most claims to the Employment Tribunal, claims for sexual harassment generally have to be brought within three months of the act complained of. However, claimants’ representatives have argued that this time frame is too short when considering the difficult position victims of sexual harassment find themselves in before turning to consider the pursuit of legal action.
The Free Representation Unit, a charity that supports people who are eligible for legal aid, argued that that the time limit is “bizarrely short” compared to other civil justice areas, such as breach of contract claims and personal injury.
Whilst it may be no surprise for a Labour leader to promote the interests of workers, few would disagree that the recent flood of stories regarding sexual harassment in various industries is worthy of concern for society as a whole.
It remains to be seen whether the building pressure on politicians to act on sexual harassment in employment will lead to significant amendments to legislation (such as increasing time limits for claims), but what is clear is that employers should not ignore the dangers of sexual harassment in their organisations.
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