Business should not be concerned by ‘alarmist reports’ about changes to sex discrimination laws, according to Croner HR consultancy.
New sexual harassment legislation, aimed at tackling discrimination in the workplace, came into force over the weekend.
The European Equal Treatment Directive has extended the definition of sex discrimination to cover any act that leads to intimidation or degradation.
Under the new law, an employee who persists in making remarks about a woman’s appearance could be accused of sexual harassment.
Employers’ groups said the law would see companies facing “legalised blackmail”.
However, Richard Smith, employment services director at Croner, said the changes were only minimal and simply clarify the existing law, rather than introduce any new stipulations.
“The vast majority of business owners and HR professionals should be reassured that they will already be operating within the law and that these minor amendments will have no material effect on the running of their business,” he said.
“UK businesses should ensure they have an equal opportunities policy in place which covers sex discrimination, and that this is effectively implemented,” Smith added. “They could, however, see these changes positively as an opportunity to review current policies and practices and ensure they are complying and working towards best practice in achieving equal opportunities status.”