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New rules will extend the organisation’s existing ‘workday booze ban’ to tackle claims of widespread sexual harassment.

Following an investigation by Bloomberg last month, which found that women within the organisation regularly suffer ‘physical harassment’ and ‘constant undermining’ of their abilities, the insurance broker is to place a complete ban on all individuals entering its London-based premises who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This has been prompted by claims that around half of all reported instances of unacceptable behaviour have involved alcohol.

Having previously prohibited the consumption of alcohol for those who are direct employees of Lloyd’s, the organisation’s new provisions will be extended to individuals employed by brokers, other insurers who work in the market and contractors visiting the building. Security will prevent entry of anyone suspected of being under influence at the entrance and, furthermore, those who are found to be behaving inappropriately could face potential lifetime bans. Whilst this move has received full support from other operators in the City of London, it has received criticism from Women in the City founder Gwen Rhys.

Rhys, who specialises in promoting female talent in financial services, argues that the ‘boys club’ image is deeply imbedded in the culture at Lloyd’s and that banning drunk people from its building would not fix this. She goes on to state that women working in the City ‘frequently report workplace sexism’ and calls for these experiences to be taken more seriously regardless of how ‘petty they may seem to men’. Organisations should remember that that they are liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by their employees in the course of their employment whether or not they know about or approve of them. This can lead to substantial claims being made against them at tribunals alongside significant damage to their overall reputation.

Organisations should be prepared to take reasonable steps to prevent their employees from acting unlawfully. This can be done by operating a zero tolerance stance to all forms of harassment or discrimination in the workplace. All reported instances should be investigated fully and processed through the organisation’s usual disciplinary procedure. It is also advisable to maintain a policy on the consumption of drugs or alcohol during working hours, outlining that it is not acceptable and will be treated very seriously.

Sexual harassment continues to be a significant issue in the modern workplace, with the Government intending to bring a Code of Practice on this topic to help organisations prevent this.  

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