Skip to main content

Warning notification:Warning

Unfortunately, you are using an outdated browser. Please, upgrade your browser to improve your experience with HSE. The list of supported browsers:

  1. Chrome
  2. Edge
  3. FireFox
  4. Opera
  5. Safari

Dealing with sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment is when a person engages in unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature. The harassment can be written, verbal or physical. It can happen to men and women.

Sexual harassment may include:

  • unwelcome touching and physical contact
  • making promises in return for sexual favours
  • leering and staring
  • sexual gestures and body movements
  • comments of a sexual nature
  • questions about your sex life
  • sex-based insults
  • displaying rude and offensive material such as pornographic or explicit images
  • criminal offences such as rude phone calls, indecent exposure and sexual assault

How sexual harassment can affect you

Sexual harassment is a serious workplace difficulty. It can have a lasting impact on you.

You may:

  • feel stressed, anxious or depressed
  • want to stay away from work
  • have difficulty trusting your employer or the people you work with
  • lose confidence in yourself and your work
  • experience headaches, backaches and sleep problems
  • feel your life outside of work is affected
  • be less productive and have difficulty concentrating

Your rights

No one deserves or asks to be harassed. If someone makes you uncomfortable, tell them.

It is illegal to harass anyone in the workplace.

If you experience sexual harassment at work

Find out what your workplace policy is on sexual harassment. It should guide you on how to report it and deal with it.

Write down a record of what happened. Be as specific as possible. Include anything you have said or did to stop the behaviour. The record can be used to make a formal complaint.

Tell someone. Report the behaviour to Human Resources or your employer. They may help you in resolving the problem.


  • if the behaviour is serious or shows no sign of stopping, it's advisable to make a written formal complaint
  • if the behaviour continues, you might need extra support such as mediation
  • if the person harassing you is your employer and they do not stop, get outside support - for example, from the GardaĆ­

It is your right to be protected at work.

Find out more about bullying and harassment

Where to get help

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC)

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) can provide information on sexual harassment.
Phone 1890 245 545 (IHREC - standard charged rate)
Visit the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC)

Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC)

Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) also provide support.
Phone 1890 350 250 (FLAC - standard charged rate)
Visit the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) website for more information

Citizen's Information

Go to the Citizen's Information web page for advice on harassment in the workplace

Workplace Relations Commission

Report sexual harassment through the Workplace Relations Commission

Page last reviewed: 1 September 2022
Next review due: 1 September 2025