What should I do if I'm being sexually harassed at work?

Your employer will be liable for sexual harassment that occurs in the workplace unless they can show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent it. This would mean they had done things like adopted a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment, set up good procedures for monitoring and dealing with complaints and trained staff on what kind of behaviour is unacceptable.

So, if you feel safe and confident enough to do so, you should in the first instance tell the harasser to stop.

You may want to have a friend or your trade union representative with you when you do this, or to have called your union helpline beforehand.

You may find it easier to ask the harasser to stop in writing. Putting it in writing and keeping a copy is a good way of ensuring that you have a record of events.

Assuming it is not your line manager who is harassing you, you should also tell your manager what is happening.

If it is your manager who is harassing you, you should speak to another manager, someone higher in the organisation, or to the human resources department if your employer has one.

It is a good idea to keep a record of the time, date, location and witnesses of any incidents and to keep copies of any emails, texts, online material or social media posts related to the harassment.

It might be worth talking to colleagues to find out if any of them have witnessed or suffered similar treatment too. You should also record the steps that you take to address the problem and the responses you receive from the person harassing you and from your employer. This material will prove useful if you are involved in a formal grievance or wish to go to an employment tribunal.

You can also bring a claim against the individual who was responsible for the harassment. Again, talk first to your trade union if you are a member of one. A union in your workplace can help you to enforce your rights, providing support for you to handle the issue informally or to bring a formal complaint, which might eventually lead to an employment tribunal claim. If you are not a member of a trade union, browse our Union Finder tool, to find the most suitable union for you.

If there is no union in your workplace, you may want to seek free advice from Citizens Advice.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.