Sexual harassment at work

Guidance for employers on preventing and countering sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Equality Act 2010 defines sexual harassment as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for another person. 

All workers are protected from sexual harassment in the workplace. However, research by the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) reported that three quarters of people said they have experienced sexual harassment at work and 68 per cent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people reported being sexually harassed at work. 

If employers don’t deal with sexual harassment in the workplace this can affect workers’ mental and physical health. This can affect workers personally and professionally and may lead to sickness absence or resignation from work as people who experience harassment at work are more likely to be depressed and anxious and less satisfied with their work.  

There may also be wider consequences for the employer from the sexual harassment of women in the workplace because this could impact on the organisation’s ability to recruit and retain women and may affect the gender pay gap and the representation of women working at senior levels.      

Employers need to take steps to prevent and counter harassment. This ranges from taking steps to create a workplace free from hostility and where employees are not afraid to speak up and challenge inappropriate behaviour to managing allegations of sexual harassment swiftly and thoroughly. 

Internal resources

External resources