Alan McCormack | Senior Associate

IKEA UK signs legal agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to protect staff from sexual harassment

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is an organisation which helps employers prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace by providing guidance, explanations of the law, and provide practical examples of how to prevent and respond to the issue.  

In February 2022, the EHRC engaged IKEA UK following reports that a sexual harassment and assault allegation made by an employee was not handled and investigated adequately by management at one of its UK stores. As a result, IKEA UK has recently entered into a legal agreement with the EHRC to improve its policies and procedures to prevent future sexual harassment amongst its employees.

According to the agreement, IKEA UK will:

  • Communicate a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment to all staff
  • Work with a specialist external law partner to support the organisation in reviewing its policies and processes relating to sexual harassment, and to improve its responses to complaints
  • Provide training on the enhanced policies and processes, harassment and sexual harassment to Human Resources staff and all line managers

The agreement is set to last until August 2025 and will allow the EHRC to monitor IKEA’s compliance with the agreement to ensure the employer is following the appropriate processes, and use its legal powers to enforce this upon the company.

An employer is vicariously liable for discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment) or victimisation committed by an employee in the course of employment, unless it can show it took all reasonable steps to prevent its employee from committing a particular discriminatory act.

Reasonable steps taken might include having an equal opportunities policy or an anti-harassment and bullying policy. The employer must also have taken steps to implement the policies, such as providing sufficient and regular training to staff and managers as well as regular reviews of policies.

If you are an employer looking to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment, do not hesitate to get in touch with our employment law department who can provide bespoke advice and training.

Alan McCormack

Alan McCormack

Employment Law Team

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