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Workplace sexual harassment inquiry launched by Women and Equalities Committee
With the Presidents Club charity dinner, the social media #metoo campaign, and many high profile cases and complaints, sexual harassment has rarely been out of recent news. Research shows that sexual harassment at work is a worryingly widespread problem in the UK.
TUC research has found that more than half of female workers have experienced sexual harassment, although four out five of these did not report the harassment to their employers. Unite found that nine out of 10 workers in hospitality have experienced harassment.
This is pervasive at all levels. Another report showed that a fifth of Westminster staff have experienced sexual harassment at work. Over 110,000 members of the public have signed a petition to reinstate third party harassment provisions in the Equality Act, so that employers can be held accountable.
A governmental inquiry has been launched. This will examine:
· how to protect employees from sexual harassment by clients, customers and others
· what actions Government and employers can take to change workplace culture
· how effective and how accessible legal means of redress are, and what improvements could be made
· the advantages and disadvantages of using non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases.
We look forward to hearing the findings of the enquiry.
Work/life balance still a struggle for working parents
The UK’s working parents are struggling to cope with the strain of overwork according to the 2018 Modern Families Index, a major new study.
It found that parents are obliged to work far over their contracted hours due to increasingly intense workloads or because they feel it is expected of them. Two in five full-time employees (40%) said they were working more hours than contracted and almost a third of those were working an extra seven hours - equivalent to an additional day each week. A third (34%) of part-time employees said they were working extra hours, 30% of whom were putting in sufficient hours to qualify as full-time.
Nearly half of respondents acknowledged that work affects their ability to spend time together as a family. Britain’s long hours culture is also having a profound impact on personal wellbeing, and is listed as a direct cause of tension at home.
Nearly one in five (18% ) said they had deliberately stalled their careers for family reasons. One in ten said they had refused a new job and the same proportion said they had rejected a promotion. These figures were similar for both men and women, and are referred to as a ‘parenthood penalty’.
The report suggests that the right to request flexible working has not had the desired impact. Less than half of parents (44%) felt that it was a genuine option in their workplace and a similar proportion (46%) said they did not work flexibly.
The responses also suggest over a third of those that request flexible working do so saying they feel burnt-out all or most of the time. Many who work flexibly in theory said they had restricted or no control over where they worked or their working hours.
A government review of flexible working legislation is on its way.