New Duty Update – Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023, which will come into force on 26 October 2024, amends the Equality Act 2010 in two respects. It will:

  • introduce a new duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees. This marks a key change in focus in the legislation from redress to prevention, imposing a new obligation on employers to be proactive in tackling sexual harassment; and
  • give employment tribunals the power to uplift sexual harassment compensation by up to 25% where an employer is found to have breached this new duty – this uplift could be significant, especially as compensation awarded in the most serious cases of sexual harassment can exceed £50,000.

It is understood that the EHRC will update its technical guidance on sexual harassment and harassment at work to reflect the new duty.

What steps can businesses take now in the lead up to next October? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Put in place (if you haven’t already done so) a reporting register for complaints about all forms of harassment in the workplace. This should help to detect any trends and provide an opportunity to resolve the issues. This register would need to be kept secure and access should be strictly limited to those who need to know.
  • Review and update anti-harassment and dignity at work policies and re-circulate to all staff to ensure they are aware of the standard of behaviour expected of them, equip them with the tools to address such behaviour, and raise awareness of the protection available to them.
  • Review and update anti-harassment training and ensure that this is rolled out as required. Case law has demonstrated that training which is stale, or no more than a tick-box exercise is unlikely to meet the ‘all reasonable steps’ defence to a sexual harassment claim. It remains to be seen whether it will meet the lesser duty to take ‘reasonable steps’, to protect employees from sexual harassment in the course of employment, but it would be advisable to ensure that any training is up-to-date and meaningful.

Ref: Sexual harassment in the workplace – new duty in force from October 2024 (

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