The current $500m lawsuit in America relating to the two Romeo and Juliet actors suing for having been pressured into filming nude scenes, is a high-profile example of workplace harassment – albeit involving minors.
While Jersey employers might look on and think it in no way applies to them, a Jersey outsourced HR provider has warned that the issue of harassment at work is growing, and many existing policies will no longer be sufficient.
The issue has grown in prominence in large part driven by the Me Too phenomenon, with research showing that 71% of women in the workplace have experienced some form of sexual harassment. Alarmingly, that figure rises to 86% for 18–24-year-olds.
Recent UK legal cases have also highlighted radically higher standards and expectations being set for employers by judges in tribunals, demonstrating a zero tolerance approach and forcing employers to do much more in order to prove that they take ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent harassment.
Becky Hill (pictured), CEO of HR Now, said it’s imperative that employers take a look at their provisions sooner rather than later: “Tribunal judges in Jersey are properly influenced and informed by key UK judgements and we’re seeing that these are getting tougher.
“The UK is also bringing forward more robust legislation to tackle this issue, which could well be adopted locally. Jersey businesses, especially those with UK connections, must take note of these changing responsibilities and potential liabilities, before they become culpable. Don’t forget that employers are vicariously liable for the actions of their managers and staff too.
“Taking care of the welfare of all of your staff is also a necessary responsibility, with or without the legal pressure.”
HR Now is advising that employers revise their policies and handbooks, update training for all staff, and establish transparent reporting and whistleblowing processes. This should be instigated and led at Board level and communicated and promoted effectively.