Sexual harassment, bullying or verbal abuse at work is going unreported
Shocking poll results from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) have revealed the prolific nature of workplace harassment in the UK.
Overall the poll found an average of three in five women experienced workplace harassment, with most cases going unreported for fear of not being believed or fearing damage to their career prospects.
The number is higher for young women, with two in three aged between 25 to 34 experiencing sexual harassment, bullying or verbal abuse at work.
Incidents were not isolated, as nearly 60% of the women polled said they have experienced three or more incidents of bullying at work, and 43% experienced at least three incidents of sexual harassment.
The majority (71%) of incidents occurred in person at work, whilst abuse was also reported over phone or text (12%) and online by email, social media or virtual meeting (8%).
Unions have conducted their own sector specific surveys analysing workplace abuse which paint a similar picture.
It was recently revealed that 80% of theatre workers have experienced some form of abuse at work, whilst 90% of shop workers have experienced work based verbal abuse.
Recent reporting by the TUC also found that two in five Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers had experienced racism at work, from ‘banter’ and jokes to bullying and harassment.
Only one in five reported the racism for fear of not being taken seriously, highlighting how there is still a long way to go in tackling workplace discrimination and institutional racism.
The latest polling into harrassment towards women comes as the TUC warns of attempts by some Conservative MPs and Lords to sabotage new laws which seek to protect staff from sexual harassment and assault at work.
Put through by MP Wera Hobhouse, The Workers Protection Bill would introduce a new preventative duty on employers to tackle sexual harassment at work and protect workers from abuse from customers or clients.
However the TUC has said government backbenchers are trying to ‘delay and derail’ the bill so it fails to pass within the parliamentary time, by putting pressure on ministers who are now ‘backsliding’ on the bill as a result.
Paul Nowak, TUC general secretary said it would be ‘a disgrace’ if the government allowed the bill to fall.
“Ministers must urgently ensure this bill passes in full – or they will let down working women right across the country,” said Nowak.
Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward
(Photo credit: Flickr / Creative Commons)
Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust
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