From 1 October 2013 Section 65 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 will come into force. One of the effects of this new section is that the protection for employees from third-party harassment set out in section 40 of the Equality Act 2010 will be removed.
As it stands, an employer can be held liable for harassment of an employee by a third party (such as a customer or contractor) if the harassment took place on at least two previous occasions and, despite the employer being aware of the behaviour, took no reasonable steps to prevent it.
The change in the law means that from 1 October 2013 employer liability for third-party harassment will be governed by the case law principles on general liability for discrimination and harassment. The old law, however, will still apply to acts of third party harassment which took place prior to 1 October 2012.