On Thursday 26 October 2023, Royal Assent was given to the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023.
This new Act will make substantial changes to employment law, with 3 major changes coming into effect in October 2024:
a) All employers will have a duty to take “reasonable steps” to prevent sexual harassment of employees in their workplace;
b) The Equality and Human Rights Commission will have power to issue “unlawful act” notices against employers failing to comply with this new duty and any employer failing to comply with the requirements in the unlawful act notice can be criminally prosecuted;
c) Employers failing to fulfil their duty who have lost an employment tribunal claim for sexual harassment can face a further 25% uplift on an award made against them.
In practice, is likely that the new duty to take “reasonable steps” will mean providing a compulsory regular course on sexual harassment in the workplace. Depending on your industry, there may be other “reasonable steps” to take. The Equality and Human Rights Commission will produce guidance on what that duty may look like in different sectors.
If you are an employer and want detailed advice on what your new duty may cover, including how to comply with that duty, please do not hesitate to contact the employment team.
If you are an employer and receive an “unlawful act” notice, you may have the right to challenge this in the Courts. Please do not hesitate to contact our employment team.
For further information on the issues raised, please contact Mr Elliot Hammer (Head of Employment)