Jeremy Corbyn has promised that a Labour government under his leadership would introduce what the party is calling a “#MeToo workplace revolution” — part of a raft of policies designed to support workers across the hospitality sector. Corbyn and his party say they will strengthen laws protecting victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, as reported Sky News.
It comes in the wake of a survey by the Labour-backing union Unite, whose “preliminary findings” revealed that nine out 10 “hospitality workers have experienced sexual harassment at work.”
Charlotte Bence, Unite’s hospitality coordinator, said in January: “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 in other environments.
“One of the most damning initial findings of the survey was the lack of clarity over sexual harassment policy.”
Within the so-called “#MeToo workplace revolution,” Corbyn and his colleagues hope to clarify those policies — defining precisely what will and won’t be tolerated, and, critically, when employers or employees are breaking the law.
Corbyn says the key changes Labour would introduce are:
- A ban on employers use of non disclosure agreements (NDAs) which can prevent revelations of discrimination, harassment, and victimisation in the future.
- A doubling of the time-frame within which employment tribunals can be taken.
- Require employers to publish sexual harassment policy publicly, alongside the steps they are taking to implement it.
Corbyn told the Bakers Union annual conference in Southport on Sunday that sexual harassment was a scourge. “Sexual harassment is a scourge in our society,” he said. “Without proper rights, contracts and union representation, hospitality staff are at greater risk of being harassed and abused in their workplace.
“Labour will bring about a workplace rights revolution, so people are free to do their jobs, in the hospitality sector and beyond, without facing unacceptable behaviour and abuses of power from colleagues, clients or customers.”
In addition to the policies he says his party will introduce to protect workers against sexual harassment, he confirmed that Labour would implement policies that would ensure 100 percent of service charges paid on restaurant bills would go to employees. Tipping legislation in the U.K. is famously opaque, with customers often being unsure of where their cash and credit cards tips will end up.
In a video published to his Twitter account, Corbyn said employers who take a share of workers’ tips “should be ashamed of themselves,” adding that this “robbery was taking place in plain sight in restaurants and bars across the country.” He said that customers who tip “expect it to go to the people who have actually earned it, not into the pockets of their bosses.”
Labour’s tipping policy and wide-ranging support for hospitality workers follows deputy leader Tom Watson’s public criticism of the Italian chain Zizzi which was outed for penalising staff when customers left without paying in November.
Bolstering the right of workers is also designed to protect against instances of employers fining staff members for phoning in sick, as the high street chain Wagamama was revealed to have been doing at Christmas time.