Although many employers have comprehensive workplace guidelines in place for issues such as dealing with discrimination or harassment, new research suggests they may be failing to communicate these policies to their staff.

Research by Canada Life Group Insurance has revealed that many employees are unsure of how they are supposed to deal with stressful situations such as sexism or racism in the workplace.

A poll of UK workers found that almost two-thirds (64 per cent) say they have been left without official advice or support from their employer on how to handle sexism in the workplace, while less than half (45 per cent) have received guidance on dealing with racism.

In addition, 70 per cent of employees said they did not know their employer’s official procedure on dealing with unwanted sexual advances from colleagues, with women more likely to feel unsure (73 per cent) than men (64 per cent).

Earlier this year, a study conducted by legal experts at revealed that over half of all female employees say they have been the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Canada Life warns that a lack of support for staff over workplace discrimination issues could lead to a rise in absences, as well as the possibility of potentially costly legal problems for employers.

According to the survey, ten per cent of employees have called in sick because of perceived bullying in the workplace and more than half (54 per cent) have taken time off due to problems caused by their colleagues or workload.

Paul Avis, sales and marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance, said: “It is extremely worrying that so many employees are unsure of how to deal with serious problems in the workplace.

“These issues are not only upsetting and stressful for employees, meaning that they may try to avoid them by calling in sick, but could escalate into potential legal action.”