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  • Writer's pictureChris Thompson

Startling TUC Poll: 2 in 3 Young Women Endure Sexual Harassment, Bullying, or Verbal Abuse at Work

Young lady feeling unsafe

According to a recent TUC survey, a significant majority of women, with a prevalence rate of three in five (58%), including almost two-thirds (62%) of women aged between 25 and 34, have reported instances of sexual harassment, bullying, or verbal abuse in their workplaces. These alarming findings bring attention to the pressing issue that women face regarding health and safety in their professional environments.

The survey findings further highlighted that these incidents of mistreatment were not isolated occurrences. A striking percentage of more than three in five (57%) women disclosed experiencing three or more incidents of bullying at work, while two in five (43%) women reported encountering at least three incidents of sexual harassment. These distressing statistics underscore the urgent need for enhanced worker protection and improved health and safety measures.

Responding to these findings, the TUC has expressed concerns about specific Conservative Members of Parliament and Lords who are purportedly attempting to impede the progress of new legislation aimed at safeguarding workers against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. The proposed legislation, known as the Worker Protection Bill, is a private member's bill supported by Wera Hobhouse MP and seeks to establish a preventative duty for employers in addressing sexual harassment, thereby promoting a safer work environment and prioritizing the health and safety of workers.

Moreover, the bill aims to address another crucial area of concern by extending protection to workers who experience harassment and abuse from third parties, including customers or clients. The TUC emphasizes that these existing gaps in workplace protections disproportionately impact women, underscoring the need for comprehensive health and safety measures. However, apprehensions have been raised regarding potential attempts by government backbenchers to obstruct the progress of the bill, consequently impeding its timely passage within the parliamentary timeframe.

One specific issue highlighted by the survey pertains to the harassment faced by women from third parties. The poll alarmingly found that in nearly two out of five (39%) of the most recent incidents, the perpetrator of sexual harassment, bullying, or verbal abuse was a third party rather than a fellow staff member. This disparity puts younger women, particularly those aged 18 to 34, at a higher risk, with half of them (52%) reporting harassment from third parties in their workplace, further emphasizing the necessity for improved health and safety protocols. The survey also examined the primary locations where incidents of mistreatment commonly occur. Unsurprisingly, the majority (71%) of reported incidents took place within the workplace premises, which necessitates robust health and safety measures. However, a noteworthy portion of incidents also occurred through phone or text messages (12%) and online platforms, including email, social media, or virtual meetings (8%), highlighting the significance of addressing digital health and safety concerns.

Regarding reporting these incidents, the survey unveiled a troubling trend. Less than one in three (30%) women who experienced sexual harassment at work reported the situation to their employer, thereby highlighting the need for improved reporting mechanisms and a supportive environment that prioritizes the health and safety of workers. The percentages were slightly higher for those who faced bullying (44%) or verbal abuse (50%). Various reasons were cited for not reporting, including concerns about being disbelieved or not taken seriously (39%), apprehension regarding negative impacts on workplace relationships (37%), and fears of detrimental effects on career prospects (25%).

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak emphasized the urgency of addressing sexual harassment and bullying in modern workplaces and ensuring comprehensive health and safety measures. He expressed disappointment in the government's perceived reversal on its promises to introduce long-overdue legislation to combat workplace mistreatment and protect workers from abuse by third parties. Nowak urged ministers to fulfill their commitment and ensure the full passage of the Worker Protection Bill, emphasizing that failure to do so would not only disregard the health and safety of working women nationwide but also represent a missed opportunity to.

As part of Base Solutions’ commitment to promoting a safe and respectful work environment, we offer a comprehensive "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace" course. This course equips employees and employers with the necessary knowledge and skills to identify, prevent, and address instances of sexual harassment, thereby fostering a culture of respect and prioritizing the health and safety of workers.


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