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The Worker Protection Act will become law in October 2024
The Worker Protection Bill is set to become law in October 2024.
On 26 October 2023, the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 received Royal Assent.
The Bill makes a provision in relation to the duties of employers and the protection of workers under the Equality Act 2010. It’s intention is to strengthen the protection available to employees at work from harassment, by other employees and by third parties, such as suppliers, clients and customers. But the original provision on third party harassment element has been dropped.
Amendments to the Equality Act
Key amendments to the Equality Act include:
- Employers will have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent workplace sexual harassment. A change from the initial requirement of “all reasonable steps”.
- Employment tribunals gain the power to uplift sexual harassment compensation. This can be up to 25% if employers fail in their duty to take such reasonable steps.
The amendments shift the focus from ‘redress’ to ‘prevention’. This puts a positive duty on employers to prevent workplace harassment and sexual harassment.
The Act will be effective one year after its passage on 26 October 2024.
While there has been criticism that the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 has been watered down, it does impose a duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment. Therefore, represents a need for a more proactive approach. Organisations will need to factor in any additional liability and reputational risk and review closely existing policies as well as awareness within their workforce in relation to these policies.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will provide updated guidance before the legislation comes into force.
As the EHRC prepares to provide additional guidance, employers may want to proactively review their policies, procedures, and training programs in anticipation of this new legislation. If you need support or assistance with this, we can help you source an HRi accredited HR consultant to work with your business.