UNITED KINGDOM - CENTRAL GOVERNMENT / LOCAL GOVERNMENT / HEALTH / EDUCATION / GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT (GBVH) / DOMESTIC VIOLENCE / SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS-SURVIVORS / TELECOMS / OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH (OSH)
Sector - CENTRAL GOVERNMENT/ LOCAL GOVERNMENT / HEALTH
Theme - GBVH
The public service union, UNISON, issued guidance in 2020 on sexual harassment, including a model workplace policy to tackle sexual harassment, covering both internal and external violence. Although there is no legal liability on employers under the Equality Act, the guidance states that “…action to protect employees and deter potential sexual harassment by third parties is still to be expected of employers and should be considered in any workplace policy, not least to cover any health and safety responsibilities. Employees can still bring claims under existing legislation, largely based on the employer’s inaction, so employers will still need to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment carried out by a third party.” Further guidance is given regarding the integration of sexual harassment into risk assessment and to improve reporting procedures.
Sector - EDUCATION
Theme - DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
In March 2021, the teachers union, NASUWT, issued Domestic Abuse Toolkit and Policy Guidance for workplace representatives. The guidance acknowledges that domestic abuse can affect anyone, it is still predominantly women and children who suffer at the hands of male perpetrators. The guidance includes definitions of forms of domestic abuse and sets out the expectations and Guidelines that employers should follow to provide support for domestic abuse survivors. Workplace support can include staff training on the issue and for the employer, include flexible working, agreed paid leave and time-off for counselling and medical appointments, a safe space and an agreed person to provide additional support. It also includes an appendix on management guidance for informal discussions and a list of possible workplace mitigation measures.
Sector - CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
Theme - DOMESTIC VIOLENCE / SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS-SURVIVORS
UNISON in the UK drew up guidance and a model workplace agreement and policy on domestic violence in 2017, updated in 2022 to take account of new ways of working since the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to address domestic violence as and OSH issue. The guidance covers training for managers and workers, named HR staff, special paid leave and the possibility of an advance in pay, temporary or permanent changes in working time and work roles and redeployment or relocation, as well as measure to safe working environment; access to counselling and support services in paid working time. UNISON’s 2022 Conference called for better integration of workplace measures on sexual harassment and domestic violence into OSH. In 2021, UNISON led a successful cross-party campaign to ensure that changes were made to the Domestic Abuse Bill to extend abuse protection orders to a victims’ workplace and to ensure that victims stay safe at work. UNISON’s model policy for employers on domestic abuse is also recommended to employers in the statutory guidance framework which supports the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
Sector - TELECOMS
Theme - VARIOUS
In the UK UNITE has drawn up a template for a framework agreement on homeworking. This states that “The parties agree that all employers must ensure the health, safety and welfare of all their workers, including those based at home. Furthermore, there are specific risks associated with homeworking that must be taken into consideration. In amongst other areas, the model policy states that the employer agrees that it will make every reasonable effort to ensure that homeworkers: “Are protected from psychosocial hazards connected to home working; such as increased potential for occupational stress and domestic violence”.
Sector - HEALTH
Theme - OSH
NHS violence reduction programme aims to hold perpetrators accountable with quick and effective responses, along with more several penalties and the doubling of sentences for assaults on emergency workers. The #Work Without Fear campaign for NHS ambulance staff, led by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives and supported by NHS England, aims to ensure that ambulance staff are protected from assaults and violence. During the early stages of the pandemic in 2020 assaults against ambulance staff increased by 23%, and in the last five years there has been a 60% increase in verbal abuse against control room staff. The effects have been the greatest on Black Asian and minority ethnic staff, LGBTQ+ staff and other workers with protected characteristics under the Equality Act. Legislation was also introduced with tougher penalties under the Assaults on Emergency Workers Offences Act 2018.
Sector - HEALTH
Theme - OSH
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), a UK nursing and midwifery union in the UK, drew up guidance and participated in Government consultations to increase employers’ responsibility for tackling third-party sexual harassment against nursing staff (RCN 2020). It calls for TPVH to be treated as any other OSH issue in the workplace. The guidance sets out key principles that employers follow and implement, including clear policies on third-party sexual harassment, raising awareness amongst managers, actively encouraging staff to report incidents, and providing practical and emotional support to staff who are exposed to sexual harassment. The guidance also outlines how each RCN rep can play a role in embedding the principles within an organisation. In addition, RCN published separate guidance for members on third-party sexual harassment.