Menopause and the workplace, vaccinations for care staff and sexual harassment in the workplace are all covered in this month's Quick fire.

Sexual harassment in the workplace

The Government has published its response to the consultation on workplace sexual harassment, which was launched in July 2019.

The consultation response confirms that the Government will introduce a duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment and new protections from third-party harassment, “when parliamentary time allows”. It is also “looking closely” at whether to extend the time limits for bringing any claim under the Equality Act 2010 from the current three months to six months.

A new statutory code of practice will be published to support the duty to prevent sexual harassment, along with accessible guidance for employers. It is likely that this new duty as well as protections from third party harassment will apply subject to an ‘all reasonable steps’ defence.

The Government has decided not to extend protection under the Equality Act 2010 to volunteers, but has confirmed that as a matter of good practice it expects all responsible employers to have an effective anti-harassment policy in place to cover all staff, including agency workers, consultants, volunteers and interns, not just employees.

Vaccinations for care staff

The draft Regulations we reported on last month, making COVID-19 vaccinations a condition of employment for workers in care homes, have now been approved by Parliament and became law on 22 July 2021.

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 come into force 16 weeks from the date they were made, meaning that they will take effect from 11 November 2021. This is to allow all those to whom the Regulations apply enough time to be fully vaccinated, and for care home employers to make the necessary arrangements for keeping records of staff vaccination. The Government intends to publish operational guidance by the end of July.

Menopause and the workplace

The Women and Equalities Committee has issued a new call for evidence on the extent of discrimination faced by menopausal women in the workplace, and to investigate how Government policy and workplace practices can better support those experiencing menopause.

According to a 2019 survey conducted by BUPA and the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD), three in five menopausal women (usually aged between 45 and 55) were negatively affected at work by symptoms, and almost 900,000 left their jobs at a time when they were likely to be at the peak of their experience.

Submissions are welcome from anyone, and are encouraged from individuals and well as organisations. These can be submitted until 17 September 2021.