Handshakes could be BANNED under new workplace rules to avoid expensive sexual harassment claims


HANDSHAKES could be banned under new workplace rules to avoid expensive sexual harassment claims, an expert has said.

Kate Palmer, an associate director of advisory at HR consultancy Peninsula, said employers may ban all forms of physical contact to avoid confusion about what kind of touch is appropriate.

Ms Palmer added the #MeToo movement has forced employers to think about implementing more “black and white” policies.

She told the Metro: “Some employers may put a complete ban on physical contact.

“Whether that’s going too far or not is a question I would pose, because it’s contextual. Does shaking someone’s hand go too far?

“They may just say ‘no contact at all’ because there’s no grey area.”

She said a handshake is “probably safe” unless an employer bans it, then it is a rule that needs to be followed.

It comes as three out of four people want a complete ban on physical contact in the workplace, according to a recent survey of 2,000 adults by Totaljobs.

Ms Palmer added putting a hand on someone’s back or giving them a hug when they are upset could be “too personal” and staff should be “mindful” of that kind of touch.

She said the level of appropriate contact varies from person to person but also from industry to industry.

For example, patting someone on the back on a construction site may be more acceptable than if it was an office.

The associate director said employers should make it clear what their policies are.

She said added the workplace does extend outside the office – including leaving drinks or the Christmas party.

Ms Palmer said employers should remind staff to “be sensible, but don’t cross the line”.

Palmer says employers might want to get rid of all the ‘grey areas’
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Not at all surprising. Sad for sure, but not at all surprising.

Somebody put me back in the freezer…

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