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24 June 2004

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Sexual Harassment Directive

The EU is to introduce new provisions to require employers to take preventative measures against all forms of discrimination, and especially sexual harassment. The new law, which takes the form of an amended version of the 1986 EU Equal Treatment Directive, was formally adopted by the European Council and European Parliament on 18th April 2002 and will come into effect in 2005.

Under the new provisions, European law will for the first time provide a legal definition of sexual harassment. Such harassment will be defined as “where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”

Although this particular provision will not necessarily involve a great deal of modification to the sex equality laws already operative in the UK, some of the other provisions of the amended Directive will require employers to take a more proactive approach to preventing sexual discrimination. These include a requirement to produce “equality plans” and to make these available to members of an employers workforce. Such plans will entail providing a gender breakdown of a workforce and statistical details of men and women who have received training and have been promoted.

It is even more vital that employers are aware of these Regulations and introduce the appropriate measures.

April 2002




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This article is an employment law e-ssentials bulletin produced by Hegarty & Co

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