Sexual harassment at work: Government “cannot delay”

Tuesday 18 December 2018

YWT logoThe Women and Equalities Committee today published the UK Government’s response to its report on sexual harassment at work. The response includes the announcement of a new Code of Practice to set out what employers must do to protect staff and a consultation on the legislative change needed to make workplaces safer for women. 

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: 

“Young Women’s Trust welcomes the Government’s commitment to tackling workplace sexual harassment and its proposed consultation. 

“It is important to get this right but solutions are urgent. We have heard a huge amount of testimonies from women in all sectors but so far we have seen very little action. 

“A year on from ‘#metoo’, Young Women’s Trust has found that a quarter of young women fear reporting sexual harassment at work for fear of losing their job or being given fewer hours. A third still don’t know how to report it. 

“No woman should feel unsafe at work or unable to say something when she is sexually harassed. This means making it easier to report abuse by customers and clients as well as colleagues, putting in place unbiased reporting processes that do not penalise victims and improving workplace cultures. The Government should make it mandatory for all employers to protect their workers from harassment and victimisation. 

“We cannot delay this any longer.”


Notes to editor: 

  1. Young Women’s Trust is a charity supporting women aged 16-30 on low or no pay. The charity provides direct services to help young women into work and runs campaigns.
  2. October 2018 marked the anniversary of the #metoo movement, which started when Hollywood women started speaking out about Harvey Weinstein to accuse him of sexual harassment.
  3. Young Women’s Trust commissioned YouGov to carry out a poll of those making employment decisions in 2018. The total sample size was 816 senior HR professionals / people managers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th April - 7th May 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the UK business population by size, sector and region. The survey shows that:
    1. one in ten HR professionals in large organisations (defined as those with more than 250 employees) have been aware of formal reports of sexism in their workplace; and
    2. 8 per cent are aware of sexual harassment in their workplace that has not been reported.
  4. Figures relating to young people’s views are based on findings from a survey carried out for Young Women’s Trust by Populus Data Solutions. A representative sample of 4,010 18-30 year olds and 1,115 54-72 year olds in England and Wales, with panel services provided by Populus Live, were surveyed between 29 June-16 July 2018. The survey shows that:
    1. 15 per cent of young women (some 800,000 young women), have been sexually harassed at work and not reported it – double the number of women who have experienced it and reported it (eight per cent);
    2. a third of young women (32 per cent) say they don’t know how to report sexual harassment; and
    3. one in five young women (18 per cent) say that they are too scared to report sexual harassment at work and a quarter of young women (24 per cent) would be reluctant to report sexual harassment for fear of losing their job, or fear of being given fewer hours (17 per cent).
  5. For more information, regional breakdowns or to speak to a young woman who is affected, please contact Bex Bailey on 07963018281 or