Ikea has been ordered to better protect its staff from sexual harassment following complaints about how it handled a recent complaint.
The Swedish furniture giant has signed an agreement that commits it to an action plan when responding to sexual harassment complaints.
Ikea ordered to protect staff from sexual harassment
The UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) contacted Ikea in February last year.
A former employee had made a sexual harassment complaint as a result of an incident in one of its UK stores.
The EHRC heard that Ikea management subsequently failed to properly manage the complaint.
The legal agreement
As a result, Ikea has agreed to sign a legal agreement requiring it to commit to an action plan to help protect staff.
Measures include communicating a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment, providing training for staff, and improving responses to complaints.
The EHRC will now monitor Ikea to check if it is complying with the law. If it finds evidence it is not, it will investigate.
The agreement will expire in August 2025.
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Baroness Kishwer Falkner, chairwoman of the EHRC, told BBC News that Ikea had “taken an important step” to ensure staff are better protected from harassment:
“Every employer has a duty to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
“I’m sure it isn’t a comfortable place for any employer to be in, when we come in and tell them that they’re not doing what they need to be doing, but Ikea have agreed to do this.”
Baroness Falkner said that the EHRC doesn’t undertake such agreements lightly. But when they do take action, they do so “specifically to ensure employers have the right tools that they give employees to protect them in the workplace”.
Meanwhile, Darren Taylor, from Ikea told BBC News the company had “robust policies and procedures in place” to protect staff.
“However, we also recognise and welcome opportunities to review and strengthen our approaches even further,” he said.
McDonald’s also recently signed a similar agreement after a series of sexual harassment complaints.
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