Harassment of Staff by Third Parties

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On 16th May, 2012 , the Government launched a consultation with regard to the repeal of some of the provisions in the Equality Act 2010 that have made employers liable if their employees are subject to harassment by a third party where no steps to prevent it have been made by the employer. It is proposed to repeal these provisions as the Government have suggested there is “no evidence to suggest that the third-party harassment provisions are serving a practical purpose or a proportionate manner of dealing with the type of conduct that they are intended to cover”. It has always been felt to be an unfair requirement of employers as there is often no possibility of them having any control over third parties harassing their employees. Estimates consider that the repeal of these provisions could save employers up to £300,000 each year. Theresa May, the Home secretary, said: “Bureaucracy and prescription are not routes to equality. Overburdening businesses benefits no one and real change doesn’t come from telling people what to do. Today’s announcement strikes the right balance between protecting people from discrimination and letting businesses get on with the job.” It’s likely that employers will still need to have measures in place where they do have control over a third party, eg the office cleaning company. It would be more than reasonable to make it known that you would not expect any of their staff to subject any of your employees to harassment of any kind. Consultation has also been launched to repeal provisions within the Equality Act that prescribe questionnaires for an employee to gather information if they think they’ve been discriminated against. The closing date for submission regarding this consultation is 7th August, 2012 following which the Government intends to publish its response with three months. You can find the consultation documents on the Home Office Website

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