In written evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee, the CBI recommended the re-introduction of Section 40 of the Equality Act, which rendered employers liable to employees if they were subjected to harassment by third parties during the course of their work and if – despite knowing harassment had occurred on two previous occasions – the employer had not taken reasonable steps to stop it happening again (sometimes known as the ‘three strikes rule’).
Section 40 was originally abolished by the coalition government to reduce the amount of ‘red tape’ facing businesses, but after CBI pressure the government has announced a consultation on how to best strengthen and clarify the laws in relation to third party harassment – including the possibility to re-introduce Section 40.
The Government agrees that employers should have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to protect their staff from third party harassment where they know that their staff are at risk. However, as the Committee notes, recent case law has challenged the potential avenues of legal redress. The Government proposes to consult on how best to strengthen and clarify the laws in relation to third party harassment.”— Government spokesperson