A new survey has found that the vast majority of workers in hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs are being subjected to sexual harassment, with staff saying that is ‘just part of the job’.
Research from Unite’s Not on the Menu survey found that 89% of hospitality employees said they had experienced one or more incidents of sexual harassment in their working life, with many managers accused of failing to protect staff.
The survey uncovered that 56.3% said they have been targeted by a member of public and 22.7% having said they had been harassed by a manager.
In testimonies attained by The Guardian, workers suggested that sexual harassment in happening in plain sight, with at least half of workers saying that the experience made them feel unsafe and want to leave their job.
The findings come after undercover journalists from the Financial Times revealed that hostesses were allegedly groped, sexually harassed and propositioned by attendees of a Presidents Club charity dinner held at the Dorchester hotel.
Charlotte Bence, a hospitality coordinator for Unite, said there was an urgent need to reinstate the duty to protect staff from third-party harassment, scrapped by the government in 2013.
Speaking to the Guardian, she said: “Time and time again women – and men – are telling us that sexual harassment is just seen as part of their job.
“Standards of behaviour can slip when people don’t feel there is a need to be professional and people treat staff in bars, clubs and hotels in ways they wouldn’t dream of doing so in other environments.”
The appeal for experiences is ongoing, but of about 300 respondents to the survey, 84.7% said they had witnessed sexual harassment of other people – showing that clients or bosses felt they could behave inappropriately with impunity, Bence said.
One of the most damning initial findings of the survey was the lack of clarity over sexual harassment policy, she added. When asked whether their workplace had an anti-sexual harassment policy in place, 77% said no or they did not know.