Employees working in the night-time economy face high levels of violence, aggression and sexual behaviours while commuting or at work, a survey has found.
Forty-four per cent of women and 26% of men working in night-time industries, such as bars, nightclubs or restaurants, have been harassed at work or on their way to the workplace, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by personal safety charity the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
One in three experienced some sort of unwanted behaviour, while 15% reported sexual harassment, rising to 28% of women.
Sixty per cent of harassment victims have never reported an incident to their employer, with many claiming they had little faith that action would be taken. Three-quarters had not reported the behaviour to the police.
Suky Bhaker, CEO of Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said: “We are extremely concerned by the findings of our research, which demonstrate that harassment of night-time economy workers is widespread and under-reported, with women being more likely to experience harassment than men.
Personal safety fears: the missing link in your wellbeing strategy?
“Testimonies from victims indicated a lack of faith in both employers and the police to tackle these behaviours and take reports seriously. This is not good enough.
“We urge the government and employers to take all reasonable steps to stamp out workplace harassment via a robust legislative framework, policy and support to help shift the pervasive culture of abuse within the night-time economy. Every employee deserves to be free from violence, aggression and harassment.”
The charity urged the government to back the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill, which if enacted would require employers to take reasonable steps to stop workplace sexual harassment, and make public sexual harassment a standalone offence.
The Bill, which is being championed by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, recently passed its second reading in the House of Commons.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust also recommended that:
- employers and the government collect and publish data on the prevalence of workplace harassment and the impact on those who experience it
- employers work with specialist organisations to develop and publish a personal safety policy
- the government, in partnership with specialist services, develops a national framework for tackling harassment
- transport services provide regular, safe routes home from work, such as 24-hour transport systems.
The research was supported by Peoplesafe. Its CEO Naz Dossa said issues including harassment and violence are not confined to the night-time economy, and urged all employers to go beyond current health and safety requirements to “provide the level of safety and peace of mind that is a basic employee right.”
Dossa said: “Our own Peoplesafe research, commissioned earlier this year, found that harassment, in particular verbal and physical abuse, is all too common across every industry sector, with significant gender difference – 27% of male employees experience harassment, rising to 38% for female employees.”
Dossa, together with Saskia Garner from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and Anil Champaneri from HR consultancy Alcumus, is a panellist on Personnel Today’s webinar “Personal safety fears: the missing link in your wellbeing strategy?” on 10 November 2022.