New guidance: Acas publishes guidance where workers allege unwanted harassment at work, including historic allegations

Following media coverage of harassment in the workplace, employers will welcome new Acas guidance for workers who have experienced this. The guidance will also help employers deal with current and historic allegations from employees.

The guidance, Sexual harassment, clarifies when acts or behaviour in work can amount to unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, and explains how to report it. It makes clear that conduct can amount to sexual harassment even if the perpetrator did not intend it to be interpreted as such, even if it was not directed at the person who feels harassed by it, and even if it is a one-off comment or act.

Examples of possible sexual harassment include:

  • Sexual comments (whether in writing or oral) such as comments about a colleague's appearance or their sex life, and offensive jokes.
  • Showing pornographic images.
  • Sending emails containing sexual content.
  • Unwanted physical contact.

The guidance also advises employers on how to set acceptable boundaries of behaviour for employees and to communicate these, and deal better with complaints from employees alleging sexual harassment. Following recent allegations in the media, there is a section on dealing with historic allegations of sexual harassment at work.

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendation

  • Employers and workers can view the guidance on the Acas website

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