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Government Response to Consultation on Sexual Harassment Welcomed

The Government has responded to the consultation on sexual harassment with a number of commitments, and the MU wishes to congratulate everyone involved in making this happen, including MU members who contributed to the consultation.

Published: 22 July 2021 | 6:34 PM Updated: 22 July 2021 | 7:06 PM
A woman is looking in the mirror and adjusting her hearing aid in the mirror.
“Our members who have used their voices and helped us shape our work on sexual harassment should be immensely proud of what we’ve achieved together.” Photo credit: Shutterstock

The MU welcomes the Government’s response to the consultation on sexual harassment and is delighted that the government are committing to:

  • Introducing a mandatory duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment at work.
  • Introducing explicit protections for harassment by third parties.
  • Considering extending employment tribunal time limits from three to six months.
  • Working with EHRC to develop a statutory code of practice to help employers determine what steps they should take to prevent and respond to sexual harassment.

Today’s announcement is something the MU has campaigned for individually and as a part of the #Thisisnotworking alliance, led by the TUC. The result shows the power of using our collective voice in tackling sexual harassment.

The MU would like to congratulate everyone involved in making this happen, and thank all members who contributed to the consultation using the union’s guide.

Tackling sexual harassment is an issue the MU has long championed and changes in legislation that would better protect our members formed the focus of our Protect Freelancers Too campaign.

The response does not adequately address members who fall outside the scope of the Equality Act’s protections

Whilst today’s announcement is a huge step in the right direction, the MU are disappointed that the response did not adequately address our members who fall outside the scope of the Equality Act’s protections and will continue to pursue this through any future review of the Act. Over 2000 people have already signed the MU’s Protect Freelancers Too petition in support.

The MU would also have liked to have seen a solid commitment from the Government to properly fund and resource the EHRC so they are better equipped to take enforcement action.

Despite the issues the government has failed to address, today’s announcement is a victory and should be celebrated. The Governments proposals will strengthen protections for MU members and will ensure that employers are taking the necessary steps to prevent sexual harassment and change workplaces cultures so that everyone can feel safe and supported at work.

Pride in what we’ve achieved together

Naomi Pohl, MU Deputy General Secretary, encouraged members to take pride in the achievement and outlined how the MU would continue moving forwards.

“Today’s announcement is a fantastic result and shows that the Government have listened. These changes in the law are a significant step forward and will help to prevent and tackle sexual harassment at work.

“Our members who have used their voices and helped us shape our work on sexual harassment should be immensely proud of what we’ve achieved together. We will keep campaigning to ensure the changes are implemented as soon as possible.

“We are also working with Government Officials, U.K. Music, the Creative Industries Federation and other Unions to improve the culture of our sector in particular.”

Take action now

It should not be the responsibility of the self-employed or freelancers to protect themselves from sexual harassment. Do not let the Government forget that it has a duty to protect everyone at work.

Add your voice to the call to protect freelancers too. Sign our petition to Protect Freelancers Too.

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