During 2017 and 2018, 20.1 million individuals in the UK volunteered for an organisation, club or group. Even though volunteers are often the bedrock of charitable organisations, they are not protected from sexual harassment within those organisations; a fact that many find hard to believe in light of the strength of the #metoo movement.

The Government is currently running a consultation process collating views on whether to extend the protection from sexual harassment provided for paid staff under the Equality Act 2010 to volunteers.

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would disagree with such a proposal in principle; however, there are wider issues that require thought. Volunteers would need access to employment tribunals to enforce their protections and the documentation that accompanies such processes. This is a major step for organisations that are often volunteer-led with scarce resources to defend tribunal claims and pay settlement monies. Culturally, such changes would blur the line between paid staff and volunteers and, whilst this might be the price to pay for the latter’s protection, it still requires some thought.

We would encourage you to participate in the consultation with your experiences and opinions. The consultation period ends on 2 October; you can find further information about the consultation, here.

Further information

For more information, please contact Dominic Curran.