The Memo: Critics say sexual harassment protections in the UK TV & Film industry in need of reform

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Critics say sexual harassment protections in the UK TV & Film industry in need of reform

Tyler Rigby – 15 January 2024

It may be a new year, but old problems are currently plaguing the British TV & film landscape, years after the historic #metoo scandal rocked the industry. Despite calls for change and tangible steps taken to ensure a safe workspace, new research released at the tail-end of 2023 pointed towards continued issues of sexual harassment and violence in the industry, and even an uptick in bullying in cases where the victims come forward with their stories. There is guidance in place, but evidence shows that employers may not always be adhering to it, so what can be done?

Well, if employers can’t be trusted to ensure the welfare of their employees, then policy must be changed to enforce this. Activists are campaigning to pass the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill which was proposed in 2021, with a version coming into effect in October 2024. The bill will add new protections to those that are self-employed, interns, or zero-hour contract workers, which research showed are more likely to experience harassment. The bill will also increase the liability of employers and introduce a specific duty in which they must take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees. Critics would say the bill has been watered down, and are making the case that addendums regarding NDAs and extending the time you can take before you report sexual harassment (currently, victims only have 3 months if they wish to access an employee tribunal) should be included.

Of course, this sadly isn’t an issue that’s unique to the TV & film industry, and with employers often failing to do their due diligence in upholding safe working standards, activists are likely to play a bigger role in the fight for safe and secure work environments. In the film & TV industry, TIME’S UP UK is working to form the Creative Industries Independent Standards Agency (CIISA), a group designed to hold the industry accountable and push for policy changes and new mechanisms to combat sexual harassment in the sector.