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Hospitality industry faces up to reality of being Britain’s worst for HR sexual harassment complaints

According to recent statistics, over 2.4 million people in the UK are employed within the hospitality industry

Sexual harassment statistics

Research gathered by hospitality industry employees discovered that around 89 percent of workers had experienced at least once incident of sexual harassment. Testimony from those affected suggests that harassment is occurring in plain sight, and the majority of employers are accused of inadequately protecting their staff from everyday abuse.

The worker’s union, Unite, conducted a survey entitled ‘Not on the Menu’, which showed that 56.3 percent of those asked had been harassed by a member of the public during their working hours, and 22.7 percent complained of harassment from a manager.

At least 50 percent of workers who were victims of sexual harassment complained that the experience made them feel less confident, unsafe and more likely to leave their jobs.

The appeal for survey respondents is ongoing, as 84.7 percent of the 300 workers surveyed claimed to have witnessed the sexual harassment of other workers, which emphasises that managers and clients feel they are able to behave inappropriately towards employees with no repercussions.

Both men and women complain that sexual harassment is viewed as a standard part of the job in the hospitality industry. Behavioural standards slip as customers do not recognise the need to be professional and respectable and behave in a way they would not dream of doing so outside a hotel, club or bar environment.

Strengthening the law

One of the most shocking findings from the survey is the widespread lack of clarity and understanding of workplace sexual harassment policies. When surveyed, 77 percent of people said that their workplace did not have or they were not aware of any anti-sexual harassment policies in place.

Union leaders, campaigners and MPs have called on the government to strengthen the law surrounding sexual harassment and also accused the government of weakening current protection for workers by removing the employer’s responsibility to safeguard their staff from abusive customers and clients.

There have been calls for an urgent reinstatement of employer obligations to protect employees from third-party harassment, which was scrapped in 2013.

Forty percent of employees emphasised that they felt confident or extremely confident that their employer would handle a sexual harassment complaint adequately. The majority, however, lacked faith or felt unsure that their management would deal with the complaint thoroughly.

Despite complaints being raised, the sheer number of incidents has made it difficult to report all instances of harassment. Staff report feeling that managers are often unaware of how many incidents of sexual harassment take place each shift, and feel that they would become a nuisance to their employer if each instance was reported.

The hospitality industry

According to recent statistics, over 2.4 million people in the UK are employed within the hospitality industry, 54 percent of whom are female. Three-in-five workers are reportedly catering and kitchen assistants, and one-in-four employees are hired as chefs. Seven out of ten serving and waiting staff are women, with 58 percent of senior catering and restaurant staff being male.

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