19 Sep

Sexual harassment: what every travel employer should know 

As a travel employer, are you up-to-date with recent changes in employment legislation? Are you able to handle the realities of today’s workplace? 

Cases of sexual harassment have been rife in the press of recent, with pervasive sexual harassment in contexts as diverse as Hollywood and Westminster. Campaigns such as #metoo and #timesup have been changing cultural attitudes towards harassment across the globe, and statistics show that more and more people are bringing claims for harassment – and this includes in the workplace too. 

Do you know what your obligations as an employer are? Employers have a duty to protect their employees from sexual harassment at work, and that extends beyond the office; harassment that occurs in resort or any other place of work means you are still liable. An employer needs to take reasonable steps to protect their employees and will be legally liable for harassment by their staff if they fail to do so. 

The legal definition of sexual harassment is “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, which is intended to, or has the effect of, violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them”… but what does that actually mean in practice? Sexual harassment comes in many different forms, whether that be verbal or physical. 

Do you have the required policies and procedures in place, and do your employees have the confidence to raise issues of sexual harassment? It is important that you as an employer know what constitutes harassment and ensuring that your policies reflect this.  No workplace is immune to sexual harassment, and a lack of reported cases does not necessarily mean they have not occurred. Employers should therefore be looking at whether their anti-discrimination policies are sufficient enough, and whether they detail how to report any concerns of harassment. 

Are you at risk of discriminating against employees through your dress code policy? Dress codes can be a controversial issue in the workplace and have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons. After a woman was sent home from work for refusing to wear heels and gaining lots of public attention through her online petition, the company involved were forced to change their dress code policy. As an employer, to avoid something similar happening, you must ensure that your current policies equally balance business needs whilst ensuring that no particular groups are at a disadvantage, whether that be women, disabled people, religious groups, or ethnic minorities. 

ABTA’s new Employment Law for Travel Employers seminar is being held on Wednesday 17 October at our offices in London Bridge, in partnership with Travlaw. If you would like to hear more, you can register for the event on abta.com.