Monday, July 15, 2024

Hospitality workers on ‘precarious’ contracts found to be vulnerable to sexual harassment

Hospitality workers on precarious contracts are most likely to experience workplace sexual harassment, according to a new report.

The report reveals how a combination of precarious contracts, sexualisation of service work and the workforce’s demographics have contributed to making hospitality workers more vulnerable to workplace sexual harassment.

Dr Bob Jeffrey, lead author of the research from Sheffield Hallam University, said: “We’ve all seen the headlines over the last year about issues of sexual harassment in the fast-food industry. Our research helps to explain why it’s such a problem, not just in fast-food, but across the hospitality sector.

“Part of the reason for this is the hospitality industry having the largest percentage of zero-hour contracts, which makes it too easy for perpetrators in positions of authority to cut the hours of those who try and speak out.”

Researchers interviewed hospitality workers from South Yorkshire, as part of a wider study on low paid and precarious work. Sexual harassment and unwanted sexual attention were mentioned by a significant number of interviewees.

The report highlights how the hospitality workforce is disproportionately young, female, from a minoritised background, on zero hours contracts and on the lowest rates of pay.

All of which make them more vulnerable to sexual harm, with workers on precarious contracts 60 per cent more likely to report being a victim of sexual harassment, and women generally reporting sexual harassment rates twice as high as men.

Findings showed that several of the women interviewed were harassed by their manager or supervisor, who used their position of authority and responsibility for their working patterns to harass them and control their working lives.

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