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New duty to prevent sexual harassment blog

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 has received Royal Assent and will introduce a proactive duty for employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment at work. This means that employers will be legally obligated to take steps to create a workplace free from sexual harassment, even if no specific complaints have been made.

Employees already have a right not to suffer sexual harassment at work. This Act introduces a proactive duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. What will this mean in practice?

What are ‘reasonable steps’

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will issue a Statutory Code of Practice to provide guidance on what constitutes ‘reasonable steps’. However, it is likely that employers will be expected to provide regular, high-quality training on sexual harassment, as well as develop and implement appropriate policies and reporting procedures.

Tribunals are already keen to call out ‘tick box’ and ‘stale’ training in this area, so ensuring regular, high-quality training is paramount. We can help – get in touch.

Tribunals will be able to apply an uplift of up to 25% on compensation

If an employment tribunal finds that an employer has failed to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment, it will have the power to increase the compensation awarded to the employee by up to 25%. This means that employers could face significant financial penalties if they fail to comply with their new obligations.

No duty to protect employees from third-party harassment

The Act was originally expected to introduce a duty on employers to protect employees from third-party harassment (such as from customers or clients). However, this provision was removed from the final version of the Act and will not come into force.


The Act is expected to come into force in 12 months. Employers should start taking steps to prepare for the new duty now, such as reviewing their existing policies and procedures and developing training programs.

Get in touch if you’d like to have a chat about how we can support you with training in this area.

This update is accurate on the date it was published, but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.