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British employers, regulators fail to tackle workplace sexual harassment: report

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-07-25 20:23

LONDON - The British government, regulators and bosses are dodging their responsibilities in tackling workplace sexual harassment, politicians said in a report Wednesday.

A six-month inquiry by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee revealed 40 percent of women and 18 percent of men have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace.

The committee found sexual harassment at work is widespread and commonplace but there has been a failure to tackle unlawful behaviors, despite the government's obligations under law.

Employers and regulators have also ignored their responsibilities for too long, and often legal protections are not available to workers, the report added.

Chair of the committee, Maria Miller, said: "It is utterly shameful that in 2018, unwanted sexual comments, touching, groping and assault are seen as an everyday occurrence and part of the culture in many workplaces. Government, regulators and employers have been dodging their responsibilities for far too long."

Miller said there is currently little incentive for employers to take robust action, adding it's time to put emphasis on tackling sexual harassment.

"The effects of sexual harassment can be traumatic and devastating, and this is reinforced by the personal evidence we received. The lack of appropriate support for victims within the workplace cannot continue," said Miller.

The report called on the government to focus on five priorities to put sexual harassment at the top of the agenda for employers.

It includes the introduction of a new duty on employers to prevent harassment, supported by a statutory code of practice. It wants interns, volunteers and those harassed by third parties to have access to the same legal protections and remedies as their workplace colleagues.

The plan also requires regulators to take a more active role, setting out the actions to help tackle this problem. The committee also wants to see enforcement processes work better for employees by setting out a statutory code of practice what employers should do to tackle sexual harassment.

The report also wants robust data to be collected showing the extent of sexual harassment in the workplace and on the number of employment tribunal claims involving complaints of harassment of a sexual nature.

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