Sexual harassment in the UK
p>Fortunately, there are a set of laws protecting people from harassment on a working place. The main act aimed specifically at preventing such offense is the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The Act defines harassment as the act that causes alarm or distress. Under the Equality Act 2010, harassment is any action that makes a person feel intimidated or offended.
What it actually is
There are three main forms of harassment: physical (hugging, kissing, rape), verbal and non-verbal behaviors that are unwelcome by the other person. Verbal form includes indecent comments that may touch a person’s sex life, appearance, clothes, etc. Also, any types of offers of sexual matter and threats that saying no to them will lead to changes in your working conditions, salary, etc. are harassment.
Also, the lighter versions of verbal mistreat like making constant jokes on sexual topics that are considered offensive is a form of harassment. The non-verbal form means showing materials of x-rated nature (pinups, magazines, etc.) or staring at a person’s body.
What to do immediately
It is necessary to keep in mind that harassment may not be perceived by everybody in the same way. Individuals inside one culture may consider some things like hugging your colleagues normal or deeply detested. So, the first thing to do is to talk to the harasser. At this first stage, you need to stay professional yet firm. Look him/her in the eye and explain that this certain behavior is not acceptable for you and you are asking not to repeat it again. Stay balanced yet confident: do not turn it into a joke to release the tension from the situation. Walk away after you finish your speech. This will add power to your demand.
If it is too hard to tell this one-on-one, write a letter explaining all the same thing. But try to do it without shelving the business. First of all, if that was done unintentionally, the other person may forget the incident, secondly, the UK law gives only three months to file a complaint concerning sexual harassment.
If harassment happens again
The next step is to talk to your employer. Employers in the UK have the vicarious liability in this sphere which means that if anyone offends you in this way, your employer has to take steps that will effectively prevent/deal with that or he/she will receive punishment. So you need to take the issue to your HR department/employer/trade union representative.
Also, many companies have official grievance procedures, so try this before using official services.
In case even that takes no effect, you are dissatisfied with the results of the investigation or see that nothing’s done, you can go to the employment tribunal.
Don’t forget that you can always call Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) helpline for advice (Telephone: 0300 123 1100. Textphone: 18001 0300 123 1100. Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, Saturday, 9am to 1pm).
Remember, it is your lawful right to have a respectful work, you have to stand for yourself, you’re not alone.