Watchdog seeks views on workplace sexual harassment guidance

Published: 9 July 2024

  • Consultation follows change to the law, placing duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment at work
  • Updated technical guidance to provide clear, actionable advice, enabling employers to meet new legal obligations under the Worker Protection Act
  • Actions employers can take to prevent workplace sexual harassment include introducing effective complaints procedures and zero tolerance policies on third party sexual harassment

Britain’s equality watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), has today launched a consultation on an update to its technical guidance on sexual harassment in the workplace.

Employers, trade unions, legal advisors and business organisations are being asked for their views on additions to the guidance, ahead of a new duty on employers coming into effect on 26 October.

The update follows a change to the law in the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act which passed in October 2023. The Act introduces a duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees in the workplace. Previously there was no proactive legal obligation on employers to take steps to prevent sexual harassment at work. 

The legislation gives the EHRC power to take enforcement action where there is evidence of organisations failing to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment.

The Act strengthens existing legal protections from workplace sexual harassment, which remains widespread, often goes unreported, and can be inadequately addressed by employers. Sexual harassment can damage people’s careers, as well as their mental and physical health.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable and every employer – no matter how big or small – is responsible for protecting its staff. As the equality regulator, it is our job to promote and uphold Britain’s equality laws. We have launched this consultation to ensure employers understand their legal obligations. 
“We are seeking views on the clarity of our guidance, so that workplaces understand the practical steps they will need to take to comply with the new preventative duty. 
“Every employer needs to understand how to comply with the law and keep staff safe at work.


The EHRC’s updated technical guidance will outline the obligations the Worker Protection Act places on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of employees, including harassment by third parties (such as customers, clients or contractors). 

It aims to provide clear, actionable advice to enable employers to meet their new legal obligations to protect employees from sexual harassment. 

The guidance provides examples of the types of reasonable steps an employer could take, such as having a clear and well-communicated anti-harassment policy, providing training to staff and having an anonymous reporting mechanism. 

The EHRC will ensure employers have the information they need to take reasonable steps that prevent sexual harassment.

Notes to Editors: