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How to Have Your Say in the Government Consultation on Sexual Harassment

We need the government to strengthen the law to prevent sexual harassment at work before it happens. And we need protections that recognise the fact that freelancers must have an equal level of protection to those in fixed employment.

Adult hands raised to give answers in a classroom setting
Having your say. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Add your voice to the call to prevent sexual harassment at work, wherever you work. Take part in the Government consultation.

Who can take part?

People who have experienced sexual harassment should be front and centre, but you don’t have to have experienced sexual harassment or be an ‘expert’ to respond.

A consultation is a process for the Government to get your views on proposed changes to the law. This is your opportunity to demand better law that protects everyone.

How to respond

You can respond to the consultation on the Government website.

Most of the questions are multiple choice so it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete. There are 19 questions in total - but only five of them reflect MU priorities for protecting freelancers.

Not sure what to say? Here are our thoughts on those five critical questions. You can copy and paste the answers across, but adding in your own thoughts as well will make your response even more effective.

Should employers be required, by law, to take proactive steps to protect their staff from sexual harassment?

Yes.

There is currently no statutory duty on employers to take steps to prevent harassment or victimisation in the workplace. If a person brings a legal claim in an employment tribunal, the employer can defend the claim by saying that it took steps to prevent the harassment from occurring.

The MU believes that a mandatory statutory duty would create a clear and enforceable legal requirement on all workplaces to safeguard their workers and help bring about cultural change in the workplace.

Should it be an employer’s legal responsibility to protect their employees from sexual harassment at work by people they don’t employ, like customers and clients?

Yes.

Originally the Equality Act 2010 contained provisions which made employers liable for failing to protect workers from third party harassment if they were aware that harassment had previously occurred on two occasions and they had failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it from happening again. In 2012 the Government announced that it would repeal these provisions.

Protecting people from third party harassment is essential to preventing discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

Should it be an organisation’s legal responsibility to protect volunteers from harassment and discrimination?

Yes.

Volunteers aren’t currently protected under the EA, much like freelancers. Making the case to protect volunteers makes it easier to argue that freelancers should be protected also.

Freelancers deserve legislation that will protect them from sexual harassment.

Should it be an organisation’s legal responsibility to protect interns from harassment and discrimination?

Yes.

Volunteers aren’t currently protected under the EA, much like freelancers. Making the case to protect volunteers makes it easier to argue that freelancers should be protected also.

Freelancers deserve legislation that will protect them from sexual harassment.

Do you have any further thoughts on these issues that you would like to share?

It should not be the responsibility of the self-employed or freelancers to protect themselves from sexual harassment. The Government has a duty to protect everyone in every workplace.

The Government should extend the protections relating to discrimination and harassment in the Equality Act 2010 to freelancers so that they are entitled to the same protections as the wide range of individuals in the workplace who are already protected.

The Government should reinstate Section 40 of the Equality Act 2010 without the 3 strikes rule. The Equality Act 2010 contained provisions under Section 40 which made employers liable for failing to protect workers from third party harassment if they were aware that harassment had previously occurred on two occasions (often referred to as a ‘three strikes’ rule), and they had failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it from happening again.

In 2012 the Government announced that it would repeal these provisions. I would like to see Section 40 of the EA reinstated without the 3 strikes rule. Harassment is harassment whether it’s occurred once, twice or three times.

The Government should introduce a mandatory duty on workplaces to take reasonable steps to protect people from harassment and victimisation.

The Government should introduce a statutory code of practice on sexual harassment and harassment at work, specifying the steps that workplaces should take to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, and which can be considered in evidence when determining whether the mandatory duty has been breached.

What next?

We're proud to be part of a coalition of unions and women's rights organisations demanding a new, easily enforceable legal duty, requiring employers to take all reasonable steps to protect workers from sexual harassment and victimisation. Sign the petition.

If you’re an MU member, log in to My MU to make sure your communications preferences are up to date and you have opted in to receiving news updates from the MU.

If you’re not an MU member, you can sign up as an MU Supporter for free to hear more about this, and other MU campaigns.

If you face sexual harassment at work

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 at safespace@theMU.org. We are listening.


Published: 19/07/2019

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