Rights of Women charity has recently raised its concerns regarding the increase in online sexual harassment of women at work as platforms used by employers to facilitate remote working such as Zoom, Teams and social media have given harassers a new way to access their victims due to home working. A recent survey conducted by the charity showed that 42% of women reported experiencing some or all of the harassment online and 23% reported an increase or escalation of the harassment since March 2020, when the lockdown began.
The charity highlighted that as a result of video calling, women’s privacy and safety has been put at risk as the harassers have been brought into the victims’ home environment, including their bedrooms. Interestingly, it is noted that victims have felt less able to report harassment to their employers while working remotely. 29% of those women who did raise concerns, felt that their employer’s response had been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with some seeing investigations delayed because of lockdown restrictions.
Rights of Women has called for the government to strengthen the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s guidance on sexual harassment at work and to make it statutory. In addition, the charity has urged the government to publish the response to its consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace, which ran from July to October 2019.