Great Britain has recognized that the current harassment prevention regulations aren’t doing enough to stop workplace sexual harassment. In an effort to change this, the U.K. Parliament has given the proposed Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill Royal Assent. Here’s how the new Worker Protection Act 2023 regulations will affect businesses in England, Wales, and Scotland.

The Worker Protection Act 2023 in a nutshell

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 is an update to an existing law: Equality Act 2010. The new amendment shores up existing employee protections and hopes to take sexual harassment prevention a step further. It is intended to encourage employers to become proactive instead of reactive. The Act will shift the focus from redressal to active prevention of workplace sexual harassment. 

In pursuit of this goal, the Act will do two main things: assign Great Britain employers a heightened duty to protect their employees from sexual harassment, and also increase the potential penalties on employers should they fail in that duty. 

We’re going to dig further into what, exactly, the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 will change and require for Great Britain employers. But before we move on, one quick reminder:

Please note that none of this constitutes legal advice, nor does it contain every detail or requirement of the applicable laws. It’s provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be relied upon as a standalone resource. If you have questions about these laws or their implications for your organization, please consult your legal counsel.

Diving into the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 will require that employers take “reasonable steps” to help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

The important phrase here is take reasonable steps. However, as of now, there hasn’t been a set definition for what “reasonable steps” will mean in practice. It is likely that these “reasonable steps” will be fact-specific and based on the size of the employer and the resources the employer has at its disposal.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is expected to prepare a new statutory code of practice regarding sexual harassment in the workplace to reflect this new duty. This will almost certainly occur before the Act’s October 2024 effective date. It is expected that this new code of practice will lay out steps employers should take to prevent these types of misconduct.

The new duty to prevent sexual harassment will be enforceable by Employment Tribunals, which are charged with hearing workplace sexual harassment claims brought by an employee against their employer. If a company is found not to have fulfilled the reasonable steps, it may be held liable. As laid out by the new Act, this may also include an additional compensation increase of 25%, paid by the business to the employee.

What will the U.K.’s Worker Protection Act’s “reasonable steps” be?

At this time, it isn’t clear what these “reasonable steps” will look like. However, it is expected that they will require employers to:

  • Have and communicate clear and up-to-date company anti-harassment policies.
  • Provide regular sexual harassment prevention training to employees.
  • Set up company-regulated reporting steps and procedures, as well as investigative measures.

What doesn’t the Worker Protection Act 2023 cover in the workplace?

The Act only covers workplace sexual harassment – not other forms of harassment or discrimination. However, harassment due to age, race, disability, religion, gender, and sexual orientation have already been deemed unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

What steps do I need to take to comply?

Looking ahead, there’s many things to consider to get your Great Britain-based company to a place that is well equipped to handle these new requirements. Start by assessing the sexual harassment risks your team might face in your workplace. Perhaps you can put together a group of employees or advisors who want to vocalize their experiences or opinions. This can give you some insight into potential risks, and what can be done to help avoid workplace incidents.

Updating and distributing new training, as well as posted signage in your workplace, will also reacquaint your team with your company’s policies and procedures. Employers can also rework their in-house anti-harassment policies to ensure that they’re as specific and business-relevant as possible. Revisit and polish up the steps for submitting a complaint – make it easy and safe for employees to report workplace sexual harassment if it should occur. 

Being proactive in these steps to reduce sexual harassment in the workplace will help to protect your company in the long run. Employment Tribunals will be looking at company preventative and responsive measures such as these when considering awarding compensation to employees.

When’s the Worker Protection Act 2023 compliance deadline?

The Act is predicted to go into force a year to the day it received Royal Assent, which would suggest an effective date of October 26th, 2024.

Ethena is here to help you get compliant for the Worker Protection Act 2023

Look, we get it! With a whole new list of “reasonable steps” on your to-do list, creating a sexual harassment prevention course that fits this new bill may seem overwhelming. Luckily, Ethena is already prepared to help you through new Great Britain compliance training requirements. Our Harassment Prevention training includes automatic course updates. That way, you can rest assured that your team is receiving the most current training to fulfill legal requirements.


Try our harassment prevention training for yourself:

We want to keep your team informed and safe … while taking a bit (okay, a LOT) of work off your plate. Ready to try sexual harassment prevention training that can help your team and company stay compliant and safe? Reach out to us today.