Newbury Business Today

Thursday, November 4, 2021 35

Newbury Weekly News

New duty to prevent sexual harassment in workplace Andrew Egan from Andrew Egan Associates with helpful legal advice for employers

THE Government has recently published a report which states that it will be introducing a new duty requiring employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. The main areas of importance are: n Introducing a mandatory duty on employers to protect protections for employees from harassment by third parties, such as customers or clients. n Extending the time limits for bringing such claims in the Employment Tribunals from three to six months. n Developing a statutory code of practice on sexual harassment and harassment at work (including delineating what steps employers should take to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, and what can be considered in evidence when determining whether the duty has been breached). Under current legislation, employers are already expected to take reasonable steps to prevent workplace harassment, but the new legislation will impose a proactive duty on employers to do so. This will support the existing protection for individuals under the 2010 Equality Act. The Government hopes this will lead to employers being more proactive in preventing workplace harassment and promoting inclusive working environments. The arrival of the new legislation is unsurprising given the Government’s response to a 2019 consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace, BUSINESS confidence in the South East fell by 11 po i n t s dur i ng Oc t obe r to 21 per cent, the lowest of all UK regions and na- tions, according to the lat- est Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commer- cial Banking. Companies in the region reported lower confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, down 12 points at 24 per cent. When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, down nine points to 19 per cent – also the lowest in the UK – this gives a headline con- fidence reading of 21 per cent. The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide. A net balance of 18 per cent of businesses in the region expect to increase staff levels over the next year, down one point on last month. Overall UK business con- fidence remained steady month-on-month dipping by just three points to 43 per cent and remaining comfortably above the year-to-date aver- age of 26 per cent. Hiring in- tentions were unchanged on September’s reading at 37 per cent, while firms’ optimism in the economy (down four their staff from sexual harassment at work. n Introducing explicit

discrimination or have supported someone who has made a complaint of sex discrimination. In addition to an award of damages for actual losses they have suffered, employees who claim sexual harassment can be compensated for injury to feelings. They have the right to make a claim under the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act through the County Court within six years from the incident(s). Following the new legislation, Employment Tribunals will expect employers to at least introduce an equality and anti-harassment policy and effective staff training in the workplace. Employers should also consider whether they are currently complying with their legal duties, such as the requirement to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment and to remedy this if they have not already. Employers should review how their staff report harassment,

clarify issues of privacy and confidentiality, handle disclosures in a sensitive manner, train investigators to handle case sensitivity, use the right terminology and keep the victim informed. They should also ensure investigations and procedures are not prejudiced against women or minority groups. Employers should also encourage training, bearing in mind that some workers and workplaces are more vulnerable to sexual harassment including lone, night and part-time workers, those with additional needs, younger workers, workers from sexual minority groups or anyone working in any industry where there are high levels of customer contact, client events or alcohol consumption. Overall, employers must adopt a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment both in principle and in practice. For advice on this subject, call Andrew on 07904 391756 or (01635) 890560.

the importance of the issue and the increased scrutiny of employers. The subject is topical as we have seen several sexual harassment cases hit the headlines this year. For example, a part-time gym worker won a £6,000 sexual harassment pay-out after she was left feeling ‘uncomfortable’ when she overheard her male colleague bragging about his sex life, and a sales manager who was sent derogatory remarks on a work WhatsApp group chat by senior colleagues won £5,000 in a sexual harassment claim. Harassment is defined in the 2010 Equality Act as unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or which creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for a person.

Andrew Egan

‘Unwanted conduct of a sexual nature’ covers verbal and physical treatment, like sexual comments or jokes, touching or assault, as well as emails of a sexual nature or pornographic pictures. An employee may also be victimised because they have complained of sex-related

Under the Act, an employer can be liable if their staff, clients or suppliers harass an employee, and the employer fails to prevent harassment from occurring. In terms of what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace, this entails being made to feel humiliated, offended or degraded on the basis of one’s sex. Importantly, it makes no difference what sex the individual is or the sex of the person doing the harassing.

Overall, employers must adopt a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment both in principle and in practice

NWN TRAVEL OFFER New Year Isle of Wight

South East business confidence lowest in UK but in positive territory

About NWN Travel Offers NWN Travel Offers celebrates 25 successful years in 2021! We launched the service back in 1996 to offer good-value breaks And days away with interesting itineraries departing from handy local pickups. Thousands of readers have enjoyed a wide variety of breaks. NWN Travel Offers is simply a way NWN readers can enjoy quality weekends and holidays with the added bonus of travelling with other people from the locality

Stunning coastlines, gorgeous countryside, vibrant towns and award-winning attractions - all on one beautiful, picturesque island. Our hotel is the fabulous Trouville at Sandown which is centrally located on the seafront with panoramic views and famed for its golden sandy beach and the traditional British seafront and pier. All twin and double rooms come with a sea view. * Live entertainment every night * Hot Drink every afternoon, with a slice of Cake on arrival * Bumper Quiz of the Year * Gala Dinner * Champagne Toast at midnight followed by a Light Buffet * Bucks Fizz Brunch Thursday December 30th: We cross by ferry to the Isle of Wight and on to our hotel in Sandown. New Year’s Eve: We view the magnificent coastal scenery along the south of the island as we travel to Alum Bay for a short stop overlooking the Needles. We then call in at Yarmouth with its continental atmosphere and picturesque harbour. Back to the hotel in time for a cup of the tea and the Bumper Quiz of the Year before the evening Gala Dinner and Entertainment. New Year’s Day: Following our leisurely Bucks Fizz Brunch we visit the seaside resort of Shanklin, a traditional seaside town that regularly tops the charts for the number of sunshine hours and has a great beach, shops and cafes. It also has an Old Town that is worth exploring. Sunday: A final drive across the island before catching our ferry back to the mainland.

points to 44 per cent) and con- fidence in their business pros- pects (down one point to 42 per cent) were down marginally. All UK nations and regions reported positive confidence readings for the seventh con- secutive month. Firms in London (up three points to 65 per cent), the North East (un- changed at 61 per cent) and the East Midlands (up eight points to 55 per cent) had the highest confidence readings, while, af- ter the South East, businesses in Wales (down 23 points to 23 per cent) had the lowest over- all confidence level. Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking regional director for the South East Paul Evans said: “South East businesses reporting a downturn in con- fidence for the first time since July, along with declines in trading and hiring prospects, is a reminder that the road to recovery is bumpy. “ “This is especially true for the region’s hospitality indus- try, which of course had only half a summer to make up for lost time following the lifting of restrictions in July.” From a sector perspective, confidence remained strong- est in manufacturing, rising to a five-month high of 51 per cent (up two points from 49 per cent) with trading prospects being particularly positive (60

per cent expecting stronger activity in the year ahead). Additionally, 68 per cent of manufacturing firms are planning on bringing all fur- loughed staff back which is more than any other sector. However, these firms are also less likely to say it is easier to find people with the right skills and experience. Business confidence in re- tail and services fell slight- ly to 37 per cent (down five points from 42 per cent) and 43 per cent (down four points from 47 per cent) respectively, although they remain higher than three months ago. Fifty-nine per cent of firms in both retail and services ex- pect all their furloughed staff to return. Higher proportions of firms said that it is becom- ing easier to hire people with appropriate skills and experi- ence proportions (46 per cent in retail and 53 per cent in ser- vices, compared with 41 per cent in manufacturing). Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking senior economist Hann-Ju Ho said: “While eco- nomic optimism saw a slight dent in October due to rising costs and the on-going supply chain issues, it is clear that firms are still feeling relative- ly buoyant as overall business confidence remains high and above the long-term average.”

£479 to include Return coach travel; Tours as indicated; Ferry crossings; Hotel accommodation of Bed, Breakfast & Evening Meal. No single supplement. (Some single seaview rooms available at a supplement). Optional travel insurance £27

Convenient pick-ups (subject to minimum numbers travelling) NEWBURY, THATCHAM, HUNGERFORD, THEALE

Please telephone 01793 821303 for further information or to book. Organised and operated by Barnes Travel.

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