The advice line is backed by Time's Up UK's justice and equality fund and public donations, and is managed by ROSA, the charitable fund for women and girls in the UK. The advice will be provided exclusively by female volunteers for Rights of Women, a charity whose mission is to help women through the law.
It is hoped that the advice line will assist women who have suffered sexual harassment at work to understand the law, their rights, and their legal options. It will assist women to hold harassers to account by bringing grievances or employment tribunal claims, and will advise women agreeing to settlement or non-disclosure agreements with their employer.
The advice line is currently running two evenings a week but intends to extend these hours.
The launch of the advice line illustrates the current focus on sexual harassment in the workplace. There is also an ongoing government consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace which closes on 2 October 2019, demonstrating the government's commitment to tackling sexual harassment.
As always, employers should protect their employees by having robust practices in place to prevent, report and adequately investigate and respond to allegations of sexual harassment. The responsibility for an employee's sexual harassment normally lies with their employer, however it is possible for employers to avoid liability for sexual harassment by one of their employees where it is demonstrated that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the harassment.
Examples of reasonable steps include drafting and implementing an equal opportunities policy and anti-harassment and bullying policy, ensuring employees are aware of these policies, providing training for staff on equal opportunities and harassment, and ensuring there are adequate complaints and grievance procedures which are easy for staff to locate and to follow.