Physiotherapists call for end to sexual harassment in the workplace

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy urges easily enforceable legal duty requiring employers to take all reasonable steps to protect workers

Published on 16th September 2019

One in 10 healthcare workers experience sexual harassment in the workplace, the TUC Congress has heard.

Citing a Unison survey which showed that nearly one in 10 healthcare workers reported being sexually harassed, including verbal abuse, offensive ‘banter’, suggestive gestures and being leered at, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy called for an end to sexual harrasment at work.

Speaking to a CSP motion to TUC Congress, physiotherapist Jill Taylor said: "Sexual harassment has no place in the workplace. But every day, people across the UK are sexually harassed at work."

The Unison survey also revealed that nearly a third of those said sexual harassment had occurred on a regular basis and one in 10 said it occurred weekly or daily. Half of the acts of sexual harassment were reported as being committed by immediate colleagues. "This has resulted in healthcare workers isolating themselves from colleagues, self-harming or contemplating suicide, whilst others have been driven to leave their jobs," Ms Taylor added.

She further revealed that one in two women have been sexually harassed at work and two in three LGBT workers have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.

"Shockingly at the moment there is no legal duty on employers to take proactive action to prevent this from happening. Our current laws rely on individuals reporting incidents," said Ms Taylor.

The onus on victims reporting leads to more than a quarter keeping quiet about it and only one in five reporting it to human resources managers, in many cases because they fear that 'nothing would be done, or they would be dismissed as oversensitive or the perpetrator would retaliate'

The international Labour Organisation passed a new Convention on ‘Violence and Harassment in the World of Work’ and CSP was proud to join the TUC-led #ThisIsNotWorking campaign which ensued earlier this year. This was the first new Convention agreed in eight years and showed 'international recognition of the urgent need to tackle violence and harassment in the workplace'.

The CSP has now called for a new, easily enforceable legal duty, requiring employers to take all reasonable steps to protect workers from sexual harassment and victimisation.

"Harassment shouldn’t be a fact of working life and it is time the government did something about it," Ms Taylor concluded.

TUC Congress is the annual policy-making conference of the British trade union movement.

Find out more about the #ThisIsNotWorking campaign.


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