New research finds that close to seven in ten women with disabilities say they have been sexually harassed at work. 

A new study by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) reveals that over two-thirds (68 per cent) of women with disabilities report experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace.

This was found to be more prevalent among younger workers – with close to four in five (78 per cent) disabled women between the ages of 18-34 being sexually harassed at work.

However, two-thirds of disabled women overall (67 per cent) chose to not report the incident to their boss.

Many believed (39 per cent) they would not be taken seriously while others were concerned about the impact this could have on their career or work relationships (30 per cent).

Just over one in 10 (11 per cent) felt they themselves would receive the blame if they reported the harassment.

Of those who did report the most recent instance of sexual harassment, more than half (53 per cent) said it was not dealt with satisfactorily.

Resultingly, the study warns that this is having wider, negative implications on the mental health and work lives of women who are experiencing this treatment.

Around one in three (34 per cent) said their experiences had a negative toll on their mental health.

Over a fifth (21 per cent) said it negatively affected their relationships with colleagues while for one in eight (12 per cent), it caused them to leave their job or employer entirely.

As such, the TUC have called for the following to be put into place, including:

  • Introducing a new duty to prevent sexual harassment, putting an enforceable legal requirement on all employers to protect their workers from harassment.
  • Strengthening legislation to tackle third-party harassment in the upcoming employment bill.
  • Increasing funding for the Equality and Human Rights Commission so it can enforce the new duty to prevent sexual harassment.
  • Introducing a statutory code of practice on sexual harassment and harassment at work, setting out the steps that employers should take to prevent and respond to sexual harassment.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

No one should face sexual harassment at work. But seven in ten disabled women say they have been sexually harassed by a colleague or a customer while at work.

Four years on from the explosion of #MeToo on a global scale, employers still aren’t doing enough to make sure women are safe at work. It’s time for every employer to take responsibility for protecting their staff from sexual harassment.

Ministers must change the law to make employers protect workers from sexual harassment specifically, and from all forms of harassment by customers and clients.

*To obtain this research, the TUC surveyed 2,003 disabled respondents who were either employees, furloughed or unemployed. Of those, 1,162 disabled women agreed to answer questions about their experiences of sexual harassment at work. Polling was carried out by YouGov, on behalf of the TUC, between 17-23 February 2021.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.