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We are taking steps to eradicate violence and harassment in workplaces across Britain – and the world

3 min read

Everyone should have the right to go to work, without the fear of violence or harassment.

As we further recover from the pandemic, return to offices, and support people getting back into work and progressing through our Plan for Jobs, we have a renewed opportunity to ensure those workplaces are safe spaces.

One way we are doing that is by ratifying the International Labour Organisation’s Violence and Harassment Convention, which is the first international treaty to recognise the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.

Through this, we are doubling down on our commitment to eradicate violence and harassment in workplaces across Great Britain, building on our strong legal framework of both civil and criminal laws, as well as health and safety law.

Over two years we have led negotiations on this treaty, bringing together global consensus following consultations with our Devolved Administrations and social partners, the Confederation of British Industry and Trades Union Congress.

At the same time, we have bolstered our own domestic plans. We will be legally requiring employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent their employees from experiencing sexual harassment, and will be introducing explicit protections for employees from workplace harassment by third parties, such as customers and clients. To support employers with this transition, we are currently preparing practical, step-by-step guidance on how to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, which will be published in due course. We will also be supporting the Equality and Human Rights Commission to produce a statutory code of practice on workplace harassment.

And in a global-first, the UK will demand businesses with a turnover of more than £36 million to report on the steps they have taken to tackle modern slavery in their operations and global supply chains. Further strengthening transparency legislation and protecting people in the workplace.

This cements our world-leading role in the fight against violence and harassment, including gender-based violence, which disproportionally affects women and girls and is one of the biggest obstacles to equality around the globe.

Indeed, we are determined to eradicate violence against women and girls in all its forms, as well as modern slavery – which is why we call on all countries to demonstrate their commitment to uphold these values.

By ratifying this new convention, together with other countries around the world, we will defend the rights of women and girls to live free from violence and abuse.

And as more countries pledge to adopt the treaty, we will see change ripple across continents as world leaders adapt legislation to comply with the convention.

The UK has now completed the ratification process and, rather than just assessing our already strong legal frameworks as sufficient, we have rightly interrogated our position to establish what more we can do.

Without doubt, this treaty is a key milestone in efforts to make the workplace safer and it becomes more successful as more countries ratify it. But we won’t relent in our efforts to combat this issue until all countries have ratified it, and until we have successfully eradicated violence and harassment at work right around the globe.

Mims Davies is the Conservative MP for Mid Sussex and Minister for Employment.

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