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Decrease in sexual harassment claims – but it’s not all good news

How to say no at work

A new report by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) shows there has been a 51% drop in sexual harassment and discrimination claims in the last year. That statistic would be good news if not for a 14% increase in calls to the organisation’s helpline seeking advice on harassment at work.

According to The Telegraph, data from the ACAS research shows there were 1,786 complaints of sexual discrimination launched through the service in 2014/2015, compared to 3,636 the previous year and 5,213 two years ago.

However, the helpline received 7,175 calls related to sexual discrimination from workers, most of whom were women. Citizen’s Advice also saw an increase in people seeking help last year.

The ACAS report speculates that the cost of launching a tribunal claim is a reason women and other employees are thinking twice, as fees increased in 2014 to £160 or £250 to lodge a claim and a further £950 if the case goes to hearing.

Yet those who do take a step toward launching a complaint aren’t guaranteed a trial. Data released by the Ministry of Justice shows that of the 8,184 cases not resolved by ACAS, only 409 received a hearing, with 102 of those being found in favour of the employee. 85% of claims were withdrawn – perhaps evidence that workers are being discouraged from pressing matters of sexual harassment.

Since 2012, employees who have been with a company less than two years have very restricted rights when it comes to claiming unfair dismissal. One female worker told The Telegraph she faces unwanted attention from her boss, but she’s afraid to file a complaint for fear of being fired as punishment, with her limited time at the firm meaning she wouldn’t be able to fight the decision.

For many workers – especially women – all of these factors mean they’re forced to find new jobs and must suffer in silence until a new opportunity comes along.

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