Letter to the Minister for Women and Equalities about sexual harrassment in the workplace

Minister for Women and Equalities

The Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MP

12 May 2023

Dear Kemi, 

I am contacting you on behalf of constituents who, like me, want to see the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill become law. Although the Bill was passed in the House of Commons, amendments in the House of Lords mean that it is now in jeopardy unless the Government actively supports the Bill and ensures it is given sufficient parliamentary time to pass.    

This legislation would provide much-needed protection for women in the workplace. The sky-high rates of sexual harassment make it clear that existing legal protections are not working. Half of working women will experience workplace sexual harassment, and this statistic is even higher for disabled, Black and racially minoritised women and for LGBTQ+ people. Furthermore, this is, sadly, very likely to be only the tip of the iceberg, as most women do not report experiences of sexual harassment, often due to fear of not being believed or concerns about professional ramifications.  

If we are to fully tackle sexual harassment in the workplace then the onus needs to be on businesses to take responsibility for eliminating the problem, instead of relying on women to report an incident. This Bill would achieve that shift by introducing a preventative duty, meaning businesses must take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment. It would also reintroduce third party protections, meaning that employers would have to take reasonable steps to protect their workers from harassment from clients, customers and patients.   

This is not a new proposal - these reforms had cross-party support in the House of Commons and in 2021 the Government committed to make the change, after extensive consultation. I have therefore signed EDM 1110, which reads as follows: 

That this House supports reforms to sexual harassment laws to ensure that employers maintain safe and respectful workplaces for all women; continues to support the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill; and calls on the Government to ensure it continues to prioritise the Bill and give it the time it needs to pass through Parliament. 

I urge you to make good on the Government’s promises to introduce these legislative changes and ensure the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill is passed, so that women can be better protected from sexual harassment and to make the workplace a safer and more respectful environment.  

I look forward to hearing from you. 

Yours sincerely, 

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