Understanding Your Obligations - The Proactive Duty to Prevent Sexual Harassment

from Silk Helix
Photograph of Jenefer Livings, Founder of Silk Helix Ltd
26 February 2024
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As an employer, it’s essential to stay ahead of legislative changes that impact your workplace policies and practices. One significant change is the introduction of the Proactive Duty to Prevent Sexual Harassment, set to come into force in October 2024 under the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023. This legislation represents a crucial shift in the approach to tackling sexual harassment in the workplace, placing greater responsibility on employers to prevent such behavior before it occurs. Here’s what you need to know:

Understanding the Proactive Duty

The Proactive Duty to Prevent Sexual Harassment signifies a fundamental change in the legal landscape surrounding workplace harassment. Unlike previous legislation, which primarily focused on responding to incidents after they occurred, this new duty places an emphasis on prevention and proactive measures to create a safe and respectful work environment for all employees.

Under the legislation, employers will be legally required to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in the workplace. This includes implementing policies, procedures, and training programs aimed at raising awareness, creating a culture of respect, and effectively addressing any instances of harassment that do arise.

Key Responsibilities for Employers

To comply with the Proactive Duty, employers must take several key steps:

  1. Develop Comprehensive Policies: Review and update your [policies] and procedures relating to sexual harassment. Ensure they are clear, accessible, and outline the steps employees should take if they experience or witness harassment.

  2. Provide Training: Offer regular [training] sessions for all employees, including managers and supervisors, on identifying, preventing, and addressing sexual harassment. Training should be interactive, engaging, and tailored to the specific needs of your workplace.

  3. Promote a Positive Culture: Create a workplace culture built on respect, dignity, and inclusivity. Encourage open communication, provide channels for reporting harassment confidentially, and take swift and appropriate action in response to any complaints.

  4. Respond Promptly and Effectively: Establish procedures for [investigating] and addressing allegations of sexual harassment. Ensure that complaints are taken seriously, investigated impartially, and resolved in a timely manner, with appropriate support provided to all parties involved.

  5. Monitor and Review: Regularly review your policies, procedures, and training initiatives to ensure they remain effective and up-to-date. Monitor the workplace environment for any signs of harassment and take proactive measures to address any issues that arise.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Failure to comply with the Proactive Duty to Prevent Sexual Harassment can have serious consequences for employers. In addition to potential legal liabilities, including costly discrimination claims, non-compliance can damage your organisation’s reputation, undermine employee morale, and lead to a loss of trust and confidence in leadership. Where an employer has failed in their duty to prevent sexual harassment tribunal compensation can be increased by 25%.


The introduction of the Proactive Duty to Prevent Sexual Harassment represents a significant step forward in addressing workplace harassment and creating safer, more respectful work environments. As an employer, it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with your obligations under the new legislation and take proactive steps to prevent sexual harassment in your workplace.

At Silk Helix we can support you by reviewing, updating and drafting policies as well as training for your employees and managers. Should you get a report of sexual harassment we can provide advice in responding to the situation and conduct investigations for you.

While this guide covers the basics, every situation has its own complexities so you should always seek professional advice.
We can help, so book a Free Advice Call .

Article last updated: 26 February 2024

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