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Two-thirds of young women have experienced abuse at work – TUC survey

Two out of three young women have experienced sexual harassment, bullying or verbal abuse at work, new research suggests.

The TUC said its survey of 1,000 women found that most victims don’t report incidents because they fear they won’t be believed or it could damage their career.

Three in five of those polled, rising to almost two-thirds of women aged between 25 and 34, said they have experienced sexual harassment, bullying or verbal abuse at work.

Most of these cases were not isolated incidents with more than three in five women saying they’ve experienced three or more incidents of bullying at work, said the union organisation.

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The poll was published as the TUC warned that some Conservative MPs and Lords were trying to “sabotage” new laws aimed at protecting workers from sexual harassment and assault at work.

Most often, incidents of sexual harassment, bullying or verbal abuse happen at work in work premises, but they also happen over phone or text messages and online, by email, on social media or on a virtual meeting, said the TUC.

The survey found that fewer than one in three women who say they experienced sexual harassment at work told their employer about what was happening.

Of those who didn’t report it, some felt they would not be believed or taken seriously while others thought reporting it would impact negatively on their relationships at work or on their career prospects.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Every woman should be safe from sexual harassment but every day we hear stories about the extent of sexual harassment in our workplaces.

“We know many women in public-facing jobs – like retail workers and GP receptionists – suffer regular abuse from customers and patients.

“Sexual harassment and bullying have no place in modern workplaces.

“Ministers promised to bring in long overdue new laws to prevent workplace sexual harassment and tackle abuse from third parties like customers and clients.

“But they are now backsliding under pressure from their own backbenchers who are trying to delay and derail these vital new protections.”

A spokesperson for the Government’s Equality Hub said: “There is no place for harassment of any kind. The Worker Protection Bill seeks to strengthen protections against harassment in the workplace.

“We are aware of concerns raised by some parliamentarians about the balance the Bill strikes between protecting free speech and tackling harassment. We have made amendments to the Bill to address these concerns but will study closely any amendments in Parliament.”