Is hugging at work considered sexual harassment? Lessons from Ted Baker
Kate Palmer, associatedirector of advisory at Peninsula, responds to stories of “forced hugging” at Ted Baker with an explainer for employers on hugging at work in a sexual harassment context.
Shares in Ted Baker have hit a three-year low after allegations of “forced hugging” about the fashion group’s founder and boss, Ray Kelvin. The company has insisted hugs are “part of Ted Baker’s culture, but are absolutely not insisted upon” so is hugging at work considered sexual harassment?
Whilst some people are naturally more tactile than others and are happy to take part in a celebratory hug at work, or even a daily hug to say good morning, others are less so inclined. A workplace culture which involves hugging may be an uncomfortable environment for the latter.
Kate Palmer CIPD is the head of advisory at law firm Peninsula and is a member of its senior leadership team. She joined in 2009 having held a senior HR manager's role in another large company. With a specialist background in facilities management in the NHS, Kate offers a wealth of employment law experience. She's an expert negotiator - one notable case was with the NHS's trade unions over terms and conditions in the Agenda for Change pay system.