Watch out for Workplace Sexual Harassment this Christmas

Published December 05, 2022 Molly Chandran

Everyone loves a good party, but sometimes lines are crossed, and sadly, every January workplace sexual harassment claims skyrocket because of workplace Christmas parties gone wrong.

Small businesses’ high degree of informality often increases the risk of sexual harassment. It also increases the risk of potential informal and personal interactions, physical contact, and other forms of communication which can lead to unwanted advances. Small businesses lack the manpower and knowledge to handle sexual harassment complaints.

An industry-based approach can support employers in preventing workplace sexual harassment. Certain industries such as hospitality, building, and construction, have toxic cultures and environments that result in unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment.

Ms. Carolyn Chalklen, Health and Safety Manager from Employsure, commented, “Sexual harassment has often been dismissed as a female problem. It is a societal and cultural problem. Workplace sexual harassment is a massive risk and should not be taken lightly. If employers have a sexual harassment policy, it can act as a prevention tool and protect their employees in case things go wrong.”

Ms. Chalklen further commented, “There are some key measures employers can take to ensure sexual harassment doesn’t happen in their workplaces. Firstly, enforce zero-tolerance. Develop a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment in the company policies and procedures and then articulate it to all existing and current employees. Secondly, train your staff. Training will help employees retain information and speak up to report incidents. Employers should also provide a safe and confidential channel where employees can complain.”

“Thirdly, investigate all claims. Any claim of sexual harassment should be investigated, even if it happened outside of work hours and the workplace. It is up to the victim whether they consider an incident as a form of sexual harassment, and employers should investigate them even if they find the accusations personally offensive.”

With the upcoming end-of-year festivities, employers must remember that the responsibility falls on them to take preventative measures to avoid sexual harassment in their workplaces.

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