UK Parliament Members Demand Reforms to Address Sexual Harassment

July 27, 2018

A new report from the UK House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee calls for Parliament to take several steps to address sexual harassment in the workplace, including enacting a code of practice for employers, requiring the use of standardized non-disclosure agreements, and making enforcement processes work better for employees.

The report accuses the government, business, and regulators of ignoring their responsibilities to curb sexual harassment, including behavior that is clearly illegal.

The code of practice for employers would include, among other things:

  • Reporting systems and procedures for employers, including guidance on anonymous reporting and any relevant data protection issues;
  • How to investigate complaints, including a presumption that all complaints should be investigated unless there is a compelling reason not to;
  • How to identify when sexual harassment allegations may include criminal offenses; and
  • Practices for training, alternative dispute resolution including mediation, and risk assessments.

The report also recommended extending the time limits for submitting claims, introducing punitive damages for employers, regulating NDAs to ensure they are not used unethically, and having the government collect data on the number of claims made with employers.

Outlook:  The #MeToo movement and allegations of sexual harassment in a number of major UK law firms and high-profile employers will likely result in new requirements for UK employers and could soon be adopted by other countries.