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Call to reinstate protection against harassment by third parties

Reinstate protection against harassment by third parties, say employers

The government should reinstate Section 40 of the Equality Act 2010 to protect employees against harassment by third parties, says the CBI, the business organisation



Before it was repealed, Section 40 of the Equalities Act made it clear that employers could be held accountable for third-party harassment.

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, said: “There’s a mistaken impression that the business community is against reinstating Section 40. This is not the case. Firms understand they are responsible and can be held accountable by their employees for harassment from third parties.”

Prospect agrees with the CBI. When the government launched the consultation on repealing Section 40 in March 2011, the union strongly opposed the proposal.

It said: “The suggestion that the provisions are unworkable or create an unrealistic burden on employers is completely misconceived.

“The provision simply requires the employer to take such steps that are ‘reasonably practicable’ to prevent the harassment by the third party. There are many such steps that can be taken, and are taken, by good employers.”

But the government disagreed. In its response to the consultation it said: “Whilst many responses expressed concern about repeal, this was mainly on the basis that this is the sort of legislation which is needed to ensure employers are mindful of their responsibilities towards their employees. We do not agree with this view in principle or in practice.”