Nearly two thirds of young women have been sexually harassed at work

TUC and Everyday Sexism's five ways to stop workplace harassment


More than half of women have been sexually harassed at work, from jokes to rape threats and physical assault – with the number jumping to two thirds (63 per cent) for women aged 18 to 24.

A new YouGov survey for the TUC of over 1,500 adult women found 800, or 52 per cent, had experienced workplace harassment.

The results are published in Still Just a Bit of Banter?a joint report by the TUC and the Everyday Sexism project, with both groups calling on the government to take action.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

‘Let’s be clear – sexual harassment is undermining, humiliating and can have a huge effect on mental health.

Employers must be clear they have a zero tolerance attitude to sexual harassment and treat any complaint seriously.’

The survey found:

  • One in three women (32 per cent) reported ‘unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature’ at work
  • More than a quarter (28 per cent) received comments of a sexual nature about their body or clothes at work
  • Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) were touched without consent at work, for example, a colleague’s hand on their knee or lower back
  • One in five (20 per cent) received ‘unwanted verbal sexual advances’ at work
  • Twelve per cent were touched sexually or had colleagues try to kiss them without consent at work.

Worryingly, 79 per cent of women did not tell their employer about the incident – 28 per cent because they were worried about negative impact on work relationships, 15 per cent because of potential damage to their careers, 20 per cent were too embarrassed, and 24 per cent thought it would not be taken seriously.

Most of the sexual harassment (88 per cent) was carried out by men, with nearly a fifth (17 per cent) the victim’s line manager or someone in direct authority.

Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism, said:

‘These findings reveal the shameful extent of the problem and the reality of the touching, unwanted advances, and inappropriate comments women find themselves confronted with while simply trying to do their jobs.

This is shameful behaviour that has no place in 2016 and employers need to take urgent action to tackle the problem.’

The TUC and Everyday Sexism made five demands of Theresa May’s government:

  1. Abolish employment tribunal fees (currently at £1,200 per court case)
  2. Hold bosses responsible for protecting against third party harassment, such as customers and clients, by reinstating the relevant provisions in the Equality Act
  3. Recognise trade union equality representatives and let them visit workplaces
  4. Give employment tribunals the power to make wider recommendations to cover all workers in a given case, not just the individual claimant.
  5. Full employment rights for all workers, regardless of contract type, including women in ‘zero hours’ and agency work.

The TUC has a ‘Know Your Rights’ booklet about protection from workplace sexual harassment which you can read here.

Everyday Sexism has also just launched Shouting Back, an online support resource for women, which you can visit here.

See: Women-only services like Amy’s House are powerful, but underfunded

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