On 26 October 2023, the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill received Royal Assent, becoming the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023. The Bill was introduced to Parliament in June 2022 as a Private Members' Bill and subsequently gained government support (see FC Feature 14 March 2023).
Background to the Bill
The Bill, as originally introduced, would have amended the Equality Act 2010 to:
- make employers liable for harassment of their employees by third parties (eg customers or clients) (clause 1); and
- introduce a new legal duty, enforceable by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, for employers to take 'all reasonable steps' to prevent the sexual harassment of employees in the course of their employment (clause 2).
House of Lords amendments
The Bill encountered opposition in the House of Lords, resulting in two significant amendments being made during the House of Lords Committee stage (Lords Amendments):
- removal of clause 1 of the Bill meaning that employers would not be made liable for harassment of their employees by third parties; and
- removal of the word 'all' from clause 2 of the Bill, with the effect of limiting the proposed duty on employers to protect staff from sexual harassment 'in the course of their employment' to taking 'reasonable steps' rather than 'all reasonable steps'.
Commons consideration of Lords amendments
The House of Commons sitting on 20 October 2023 considered and approved both Lords amendments meaning that the text of the Bill was agreed (HoC Hansard). A research briefing which detailed the Lords amendments was published by the House of Commons Library before the Commons sitting (see FC Feature 13 October 2023).
For further information about harassment protections in the workplace, see Sex/Harassment related to sex.
First featured on the Employment News Service on 26 October 2023.
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