Sexual harassment

If you've been sexually harassed at work

If you've experienced sexual harassment at work, you can make a complaint to your employer.

Your employer should:

  • take your complaint very seriously
  • handle it fairly and sensitively

What you can do

It can be easier to start by talking with your employer or someone senior at work to try and resolve the problem.

If you do not feel comfortable doing this or the issue is particularly serious, you can raise a formal grievance.

You can also look at your workplace's policy on discrimination and harassment, if there is one. This should say how your employer handles discrimination and harassment complaints.

The policy may also tell you who to send your complaint to, for example someone at your workplace with specialist training. You should also tell your local trade union representative, if you have one.

It's a good idea to make notes before you talk to someone, especially if talking about the experience is particularly distressing.

Your employer must allow you to be accompanied by someone you work with or a trade union representative at a grievance hearing. They might let you bring a friend or family member.

If you make a complaint a long time after an incident took place, your employer should still take it seriously.

When it's a crime

If you've been sexually assaulted or raped at work, you should report it to the police.

If you do not want to tell the police, your employer might still need to report it. They should always tell you if they're going to do this.

If the incident has been reported to the police or it's going through a court, your employer must still investigate your complaint. They can carry out disciplinary procedures without waiting for the court outcome, as long as this can be done fairly.

If the problem is not resolved

You can consider making a claim to an employment tribunal.

If you want to do this, first you must tell Acas you intend to make an employment tribunal claim. You need to do this within 3 months of the incident.

When you contact Acas, you will have the chance to try to resolve your case in another way before formally submitting a claim to an employment tribunal.

A sexual harassment complaint may be considered at an employment tribunal if the tribunal decides there's a good reason for taking more than 3 months to tell Acas.

It's a good idea to get legal advice if:

  • your complaint involves sexual assault or rape
  • you feel your employer is not dealing with your complaint because the person you've complained about is powerful or influential
  • it's more than 3 months since the incident and you're considering making a claim to an employment tribunal

It's against the law for you to be:

  • victimised because you've made a sexual harassment complaint
  • treated less favourably at work because you've been sexually harassed or you've rejected someone trying to sexually harass you