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MU says any new measures to combat sexual harassment in the workplace need to also protect freelancers

By | Published on Wednesday 23 October 2019

Musicians' Union

The Musicians’ Union is calling on the UK government to ensure that any new measures to stop sexual harassment in the workplace benefit freelancers as well as those in full-time employment. The music industry, of course, has an unusually high number of people working on a freelance basis, especially among artists, musicians and songwriters.

The MU states: “Earlier this year, the government held a consultation on preventing sexual harassment at work. While we welcome the government’s proposal to implement a new preventative duty that will require employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, it does not go far enough”.

It goes on: “Their proposed preventative duty has the potential to affect the substantial culture change we would like to see in the music industry and in wider society. But the protection it offers would be limited to employees and workers only, leaving freelancers without any meaningful protection”.

The MU’s own research shows that freelancers are less likely to report incidents of sexual harassment because they fear they might lose work or lose out on future work, that being more likely to happen when you are self-employed.

In a survey of MU members – in which nearly 50% of respondents reported being a victim of sexual harassment and over half said they had witnessed harassment – 61% of respondents said that they felt they were at greater risk of experiencing sexual harassment because of their freelance status.

Concluding, the MU says: “It should not be the sole responsibility of the self-employed or freelancers to protect themselves. New protections should be making this inequality of protection better, not worse”.

The MU has set up a petition calling on ministers to ensure that any new measures to protect workers against sexual harassment can be applied to freelancers – in the music community and beyond – as well. Info here.