On 14 March 2008 the UK government introduced a new anti-sexual harassment regulation which will come into force on 6 April 2008. No I have not made a typing error, that is a whole 3 weeks from introduction to implementation.
The new rules mean that every member of staff must be protected from sexual harassment by ANYONE they meet carrying out their work duties. That includes members of the public, suppliers, people they meet at seminars, etc.
They managed to bring in the new regulation using a statutory instrument, meaning there is no requirement for debate in Parliament. I am left wondering where the democratic process has vanished to. Of course I believe people should be free from sexual harassment in any walk of life but surely we deserve notification and time to develop and implement a plan of action seems only reasonable.
The price you, as an employer, could face for failure to protect from sexual harassment is unlimited, there is no cap on the amount you can be sued for.
I came across this snippet of information today when I was asked to write to my MP demanding this regulation be delayed until employers can be informed about the change and decided to have a search around to see what I could find.
To give you an idea of how far under the radar this one has flown, as I type there is nothing on the Business Link website and a Google search brings up only 3 websites with information (which are all Human Resources websites and not related to government).
The UK website HRZone has quoted a spokesman for Harriet Harman who stated that the timeframe was “perfectly normal”, “it more than meets all the requirements and has not been shortened”.
I am left wondering where the requirement to inform employers of changes in regulations has gone to?
All employers must look into this new regulation and should of course write to their MP expressing their opinions and requesting that it’s introduction be postponed until October 2008.