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Preventing Sexual Harassment at Work, Protecting Freelancers too

New research by the MU reveals 48% of members surveyed have been sexually harassed at work, and more than half have witnessed incidents of sexual harassment while working.

Published: 21 October 2019 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:30 PM
Photograph of person working at a recording desk
We’ve seen musicians, mostly female, threatened, bad mouthed to colleagues, fired, not hired again and even sued by perpetrators. Photo credit: Shutter stock

Sexual harrasment is widespread – so much so that 61% of musicians who took the survey told us they feel at greater risk of experiencing sexual harassment because of their freelance status.

That’s why the MU is campaigning for stronger protections from sexual harassment at work that include freelancers too.

Preventing sexual harassment at work

An overwhelming majority of members who experienced sexual harassment at work said that they did not report their experiences (85%).

Their main reasons for not reporting were the culture where they worked (56%), followed by fear of losing work (41%).

And who can blame them. We’ve seen first-hand how difficult it is for freelancers to report sexual harassment. We’ve seen musicians, mostly female, threatened, bad mouthed to colleagues, fired, not hired again and even sued by perpetrators – and the list goes on.

That’s not to say freelancers shouldn’t report incidences of sexual harassment.

Instead, what this shows us is that the levels of protection there for freelancers are not as strong as they are for other workers, and must therefore be made stronger.

Protecting freelancers too

Earlier this year, the Government held a consultation on preventing sexual harassment at work. While we welcome the Government’s proposal to implement a new preventative duty that will require employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, it does not go far enough.

Their proposed preventative duty has the potential to affect the substantial culture change we would like to see in the music industry and in wider society.

But the protection it offers would be limited to employees and workers only, leaving freelancers without any meaningful protection.

MU research shows that freelancers feel at greater risk of sexual harassment because of their employment status, and are less likely to report it if it happens.

It’s a clear sign that the system is broken; it should not be the sole responsibility of the self-employed or freelancers to protect themselves. New protections should be making this inequality of protection better, not worse.

Add your voice to the call

Sign the petition now.

By signing the petition, you are reminding the Government that they have a duty to protect everyone from sexual harassment at work – including you, and musicians and other freelancers you know or whose work you enjoy.

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