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Business leaders must do more to tackle sexual harassment within the workplace.

Published 12 January 2018

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (1) (EHRC) have stated that they will take legal action against leading organisations that fail to adequately investigate, identify and address sexual harassment claims within the workplace. In addition, the EHRC have published legal guidance (2) sexual harassment within the workplace and how to identify and support people who face sexual harassment at work.

Chief executive of the EHRC, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said that sexual harassment was "rife across all of our industries", suggesting that everyone had to "take responsibility to ensure that no woman will ever be intimidated from reporting, be challenged by the difficulty of doing so or frightened of the implications for her career" (3) .

Shell publishes its gender pay gap report

The UK's biggest company, Shell, has published its gender pay gap report (4) which suggests female employees receive on average, 22.2% less than their male colleagues. According to their figures, Shell has a 22.2% mean pay gap (the difference between the average salaries for men and women) and a 23.4% median pay gap. In addition, the report showed a mean bonus pay gap of 43.2% and a 25.5% median bonus pay gap. Commenting on the report, Shell's UK chairman Sinead Lynch attributed the findings to the low number of "women in senior leadership positions, and fewer women working in technical or trading roles that attract higher levels of pay". He said the company had already addressed the gender pay gap which, so far, had resulted in a 15% increase in the number of women in senior management roles in the past 12 years (5) .

Working days lost to strikes in private sector are up be 80%

The number of working days lost to strikes in the private sector has increased by 80% in the last year new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (6) (ONS) has revealed. According to the figures, nearly 150,000 private sector working days were lost in 2016-2017 (the year ending in July), compared to only 83,000 in the previous year. In contrast, the number of public sector working days lost to strikes fell by 69% from 231,000 to 72,000 over the same period, stoppages decreased by 4%, and the overall number of workers involved in disputes fell by 68% from 234,000 to 75,000 (7) .

BBC training programme open to only BAME candidates

The BBC have been criticised for exclusively advertising a role for candidates from a black, Asian or non-white ethnic minority background (BAME). According to the advert, the 12-month trainee broadcast journalist role would pay candidates £10.20 an hour and would enable "budding news junkies to gain hands on experience at a national and international level". However, despite the move closely following calls by Baroness McGregor-Smith (8) for companies to address the lack of diversity in their workplaces, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen criticised the opportunity, suggesting that "those most in need of a leg up and most struggling in our education system are white boys from deprived backgrounds…It's positive discrimination". In response, the BBC noted that the opportunity was not a job “but simply a training and development opportunity and the right thing to do (9) " as permitted by the Equality Act 2010 (10) .

Fit for Work guidance updated

The Department for Work and Pensions (11) has updated its Fit for Work guidance (12) , noting that from 15 December 2017changes will be made to the existing Fit for Work scheme. Under the new guidance, if an employee has been unfit for work for 4 weeks or more, their GP or employer will be able to refer them to a government occupational health service.



1. Home Page | Equality and Human Rights Commission [Internet]. [cited 2018 Jan 12]. Available from:

2. Sexual harassment in the workplace | Equality and Human Rights Commission [Internet]. [cited 2018 Jan 12]. Available from:

3. Gordon S. Top companies face legal action over sexual harassment [Internet]. Financial Times. 2017 [cited 2018 Jan 12]. Available from:

4. Shell UK publishes 2017 gender pay gap report [Internet]. [cited 2018 Jan 12]. Available from:

5.Shell reveals gender pay gap of 22%. BBC News [Internet]. 2017 Nov 30 [cited 2018 Jan 12]; Available from:

6.   Workplace disputes and working conditions - Office for National Statistics [Internet]. [cited 2018 Jan 12]. Available from:

7. Moss R. Private sector strike days jump 80% [Internet]. Personnel Today. 2017 [cited 2018 Jan 12]. Available from:

8. Race in the workplace: The McGregor-Smith Review - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2018 Jan 12]. Available from:

9. BBC: BAME scheme is “right thing to do.” BBC News [Internet]. 2016 Jun 3 [cited 2018 Jan 12]; Available from:

10. Participation E. Equality Act 2010 [Internet]. [cited 2018 Jan 3]. Available from:

11. Department for Work and Pensions - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2018 Jan 12]. Available from:

12. Fit for Work: guidance for employers - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2018 Jan 12]. Available from:

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