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Third Party Harassment at Work: Protect Freelancers Too

You might have heard about the Musicians’ Union’s campaign to Protect Freelancers Too. In a recent survey of MU members, 48% told us they have experienced sexual harassment at work.

Published: 29 November 2019 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:30 PM
Photograph of violin performer facing away from camera. Photo credit: Shutterstock
48% of MU members told us they have experienced sexual harassment at work

85% did not report it, and about two-thirds told us they believe freelancers are at greater risk of it happening to them.

But our survey showed something else that’s quite interesting: 47% of musicians surveyed told us they had been harassed by a third party at work.

That means they’ve been harassed by someone who is not their employer, engager or an employee of an organisation they may be working for.

A third party could be an audience member, bandmate, another freelancer you work with, or someone else you meet while on the job.

It happens a lot

It's also common in other sectors, like hospitality. So much so that the Trade Union Congress looked into it too. They found that 36% of 18-34 year olds who had experienced some form of harassment, abuse or violence at work said that it was perpetrated by a third party. Of those who reported it, 76% said nothing changed or things got worse.

Creating change

It’s easy to feel hopeless when faced with the prospect of challenging a system that’s been around since year dot and feels so engrained in the way things are.

But both the TUC and the MU are campaigning for change – starting with two petitions for you to sign.

We’re proud to be part of a coalition of trade unions and women’s rights charities led by the TUC making the case calling for a legal duty on employers to take proactive measures to prevent sexual harassment happening at all.

Sign the #ThisIsNotWorking petition.

And we’ve launched our own MU campaign to Protect Freelancers Too. Because right now, the laws protecting working people only protect people who are employed and freelancers who can say they have ‘worker’ status. But most freelance musicians don’t qualify for that status, which means that workplace protections do not protect them.

That’s why we’re calling for laws to prevent sexual harassment at work that protect everyone.

Sign the #ProtectFreelancersToo petition now.

Calling it out

No-one should experience or fear sexual harassment, abuse, bullying or discrimination at work.

If you have, whatever your role in the music industry, you can report it in confidence to

The MU is proud to take part in 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence spearheaded by UN Women. Follow on the MU on Twitter and Instagram to get involved, or sign up as an MU Supporter for free for the latest campaigns news.


End sexual harassment at work

Government committed to introducing a mandatory duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment at work. Now we need action to protect all freelancers too.

End sexual harassment at work