COVID-19 VACCINATIONS: If, in addition to indemnity for your main employment, you would like cover for delivering COVID-19 Vaccinations please apply for our standalone extension Apply Today

Home  »   Member NetworksNational Association of Women PharmacistsMember VoiceLatest News   »   PDA sees an increase in members seeking advice on sexual harassment incidents

PDA sees an increase in members seeking advice on sexual harassment incidents

President of the PDA NAWP Network, Ayah Abbass discusses the rising issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, what the PDA is doing to help, and what employers need to do to protect their workers.

Thu 19th October 2023 The PDA

Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any situation and the PDA works with other unions, PDA Representative Networks in employers, and stakeholders to help eradicate any instances of sexual harassment that pharmacists may face in the workplace.

In April this year, the PDA urged the government to not backtrack on its promise to strengthen sexual harassment laws and safeguard employees at work.

The PDA works as part of the wider trade union movement across the UK and with other stakeholders, organisations, and its representatives to ensure that workplaces are safe for all workers including PDA members (pharmacists).

Sexual harassment is more widespread than many people think. TUC research in 2016 found that over half of working women had experienced some form of sexual harassment. Nearly two-thirds of women aged 18-24 had experienced some form of sexual harassment.

As part of the wider trade union movement, PDA members campaign for employers to be more proactive in their approach to preventing sexual harassment and to do more than rely on the current legislation, which requires the victim to report an incident of sexual harassment.

In addition, the PDA is affiliated with the Fawcett Society, which works with organisations across the UK to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace and also calls for a more proactive approach from employers. The Fawcett Society says that for sustainable change, a holistic approach must be undertaken by employers which includes addressing culture, policy, training, reporting mechanisms and the way employers and managers respond to reports of sexual harassment.

Whilst in recent times the PDA has experienced an increase in members seeking advice and guidance on incidents of sexual harassment, this does not necessarily correlate to an increasing number of incidents. Through PDA activities to raise awareness of campaigns, education and training, and by creating ‘safe spaces’ for members to discuss the issue, it’s hoped that members feel more confident in reporting incidents and seeking advice from the PDA. Sexual harassment has also been highlighted through increased recent media coverage with some high-profile cases, which has also encouraged more people to have the confidence to come forward.

The PDA empowers members to collectively challenge employers to do better and to help other members report incidents that they may experience or witness.

It is important to note that whilst most incidents of sexual harassment reported are from women, it is an intersectional issue and can happen to all demographics of workers. There have been requests for advice from PDA student and trainee members and the PDA has also supported individual members from its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Networks.

A TUC 2019 report showed almost 7 in 10 LGBT+ people have been sexually harassed at work, with the highest levels reported against BAME and disabled people.

Liam Volk, President of the PDA LGBT+ Network said, “I remember the discomfort I felt when a work colleague began stroking my inner thigh whilst divulging their sex life to me and making lewd suggestions at me. This discomfort continued when some colleagues laughed this off saying that I was being ‘too serious’ or that it was just how this person was.

Anyone can be sexually harassed, and it is important that we challenge this behaviour if we see anyone being sexually harassed, so that everyone can feel safe at work. This was a long time ago, and I know more about my rights. I would definitely have the confidence to challenge and report it now.”

It is important to note that sexual harassment can take many forms, including sexual jokes, staring looks and sexual comments on appearance in person and on social media, which may be perceived by some people as ‘banter’ but are forms of sexual harassment.

The PDA encourages employers to have zero tolerance for these behaviours in the workplace. Incidents of sexual harassment outside of a university, training or workplace setting are also unacceptable and should be reported.

There is still a lot of progress that needs to be made, which is why it’s so important that employers adopt strong policies, take all reasonable steps to prevent incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace, and take a tough stance when dealing with complaints in order to protect their employees.

Jayne Love, PDA Lead on Equalities said, “We need to work together on eradicating sexual harassment as it is prevalent not just in workplaces but also in wider society. It is an intersectional issue which requires a joined-up approach, so it is important to work together with others within the trade union movement as well as relevant organisations to actively promote zero tolerance of sexual harassment.”

The PDA encourages any members who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or work setting and require advice and support to contact the PDA Member Support Centre.

PDA members and all pharmacists can also contact the PDA’s charity partner, Pharmacist Support for dedicated help on wellbeing.

PDA Workplace Representatives who want to know more about the nature of workplace sexual harassment and how they can help are encouraged to sign up for the General Federation of Trade Unions’ (GFTU) Tackling Sexual Harassment course. Find out more here.


By Ayah Abbass, President of PDA NAWP Network

Learn more

Not yet a PDA member?

If you have not yet joined the PDA, we encourage you to join today and ask your colleagues to do the same.

Membership is FREE to pharmacy students, trainee pharmacists, and for the first three months of being newly qualified.


Read about our key member benefits here.





The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

Cookie Use

This website uses cookies to help us provide the best user experience. If you continue browsing you are giving your consent to our use of cookies.

General Guidance Resources Surveys PDA Campaigns Regulations Locums Indemnity Arrangements Pre-Regs & Students FAQs Coronavirus (COVID-19)