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New Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment at Work

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“IHREC”) has published a new Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment at Work (the “Code”), one of two new codes published on 9 March 2022 to mark the week of International Women’s Day 2022.

Overview:

Complaints procedure: Many employer policies will already comply with most elements of the complaints procedure recommended in the Code, but there are a number of noteworthy recommendations:

Takeaway for Employers: Employers are legally responsible for harassment and sexual harassment suffered by employees in the course of their employment. However, it is a defence for an employer to prove that it took reasonably practicable steps to prevent the harassment, to address any complaints of harassment, and to reverse the effects of the harassment. In order to rely on this defence, employers must be able to demonstrate that they have comprehensive and effective policies and complaints procedures in place, and that such policies and procedures are readily accessible to employees.

While the Code is not itself legally binding, it is admissible in evidence in legal proceedings and is likely to be referred to in the context of complaints involving harassment or sexual harassment. Employers should periodically review their internal policies and procedures to ensure that they remain up to date and in line with best practice. Employers should now also ensure that their policies and procedures are compliant with the Code, which is likely to be used as a benchmark against which employer policies will be compared in the context of legal proceedings.

Link: https://www.ihrec.ie/app/uploads/2022/03/Codes-of-Practice-Sexual-Harassment-FA_Digital.pdf

Authors – Jenny Wakely and Anne O’Connell

28th March 2022

Anne O’Connell Solicitors

19-22 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

www.aocsolicitors.ie



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