1 in 5 bisexual people report being sexually assaulted at work, TUC poll reveals

Bisexual people report high levels of unwanted touching and sexual assaul

1 in 4 bisexual people reported they had experienced sexual harassment and that it made them leave or want to leave their job, with 1 in 8 leaving as a result

TUC calls for a new duty on employers to properly protect their staff from sexual harassment at work

Around 1 in 5 bisexual people (21%) reported they had been sexually assaulted at work, according to new figures published by the TUC today (Monday) on Bi Visibility Day.

And 7 in 10 (71%) reported they had experienced sexual harassment at work.

In May the TUC published the first study into the sexual harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) workers in Great Britain. It revealed high levels of workplace harassment across the LGBT community, again with 7 in 10 (68%) reporting sexual harassment at work.

But more detailed figures published for the first time today show that bisexual people experience even higher levels of sexual harassment than other LGBT people in some areas.

According to the poll, bisexual people were more likely to experience unwanted touching and sexual assault at work than the LGBT community in general:

  • Nearly 1 in 3 (30%) reported they had experienced unwanted touching, for example hands being placed on their lower back or knee
  • More than 1 in 5 (21%) reported experiencing sexual assault, for example unwanted touching of the breasts, buttocks or genitals, or attempts to kiss them
  • And 1 in 9 (11%) said they had been seriously sexually assaulted or raped at

Bisexual men and women

The research found that the rates of unwanted touching are significantly different by sex for bisexual workers. Nearly 2 in 5 (38%) bi women reporting unwanted touching compared to 1 in 4 (23%) bi men.

However, in other areas bi women and men have similar experiences:

  • Around 1 in 5 reported they were sexually assaulted – for example unwanted touching of the breasts, buttocks or genitals, or attempts to kiss them – at work (22% for bi women and 20% for bi men)
  • And around 1 in 10 said they were seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work (10% for bi women and 11% for bi men).

Impact

Bisexual people who had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace told the TUC it had a big impact on their lives:

  • 1 in 4 (24%) of those who experienced an unwanted sexual incident in the workplace said it caused them to leave or want to leave their job
  • Around 1 in 8 (12%) actually left their job as a result
  • 1 in 4 (24%) reported a detrimental impact on their

TUC research shows these experiences contribute to a workplace environment where more

than 2 in 5 (42%) bisexual people don’t feel able to be open with anyone at work about their sexual orientation.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Bisexual people should feel safe and supported at work, but instead they’re experiencing shocking levels of sexual harassment, with significant impacts on their health and well-being.

“Sexual harassment has no place in a modern workplace – or in wider society.

“The government needs to change the law to put the responsibility for preventing harassment on employers, not victims. And anyone worried about sexual harassment at work should join a union.”

A change in the law

Under current law there is no legal duty on employers to take proactive action to prevent harassment happening in their workplaces. Instead, the onus is on the victim of the sexual harassment to report it to their employer after it has happened.

A TUC alliance – backed by more than 30 groups including Stonewall, the Fawcett Society and Amnesty International UK – has launched a petition calling on the government to change the law to make employers responsible for preventing sexual harassment.

The petition has been signed by over 11,000 people and can be found at: www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/uk-gov-act-to-prevent-sexual-harassment-at-work

TUC recommendations to stop sexual harassment at work:

The TUC is calling on the government to:

  • Introduce a new duty to prevent
  • Introduce a statutory code of practice on sexual harassment and harassment at
  • Strengthen legislation to tackle third-party
  • Build on the findings set out in this report by conducting further
  • Fund specialist services to combat sexual violence and support survivors. The TUC is calling on employers to:
  • Make all work policies
  • Review existing
  • Adopt a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination and harassment. The TUC is calling on unions to:
  • Review their guidance and
  • Review employer policies on sexual
  • Negotiate robust workplace
  • Run workplace
  • Comparison of survey responses from bisexual people and the LGBT community as a whole:

 

Survey question LGBT

response

Bisexual response Bisexual women Bisexual Men
I experienced unwanted touching, for example placing hands on their lower back or knee  

22%

 

30%

 

38%

 

23%

I experienced sexual assault, for example unwanted touching of the breasts, buttocks or genitals, or attempts to kiss me  

15%

 

21%

 

22%

 

20%

I was seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work 8% 11% 10% 11%

 

 

Survey question LGBT response Bisexual response
NET: The harassment caused me to leave (or

want to leave) my job

16% 24%
NET: The harassment had a detrimental impact on my health 18% 24%
[The harassment] had a negative impact on

my mental health (e.g. made you feel more stressed, anxious, depressed)

 

16%

 

22%

 

  • Defining sexual harassment: We have used the Equality Act 2010 definition of sexual harassment. It defines sexual harassment as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment for them. Sexual harassment at work can take many

forms, from suggestive remarks, jokes and questions about a colleague’s sex life, and displaying or circulating pornography, to inappropriate touching, hugging or kissing, or sexual assault.

  • The figure of 42% of bisexual people not being out about their sexuality at work is from the TUC report The Cost of Being Out at Work: tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/cost- being-out-work
  • For information about Bi Visibility Day please visit: bivisibilityday.com/year2019/
  • The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a

Contacts:

Elly Gibson egibson@tuc.org.uk 020 7467 1337

079 0091 0624

TUC press office media@tuc.org.uk 020 7467 1248