Council staff should have better protection against unwelcome advances by people using public services, Unison has warned.
The trade union said employers who fail to tackle members of the public who grope or subject female staff to lewd jokes should be held to account.
A motion by Unison is calling for the reinstatement of Section 40 of the Equality Act to protect staff against third-party harassment. Under this clause, employers were liable if they failed to act after two incidents.
Christina McAnea, assistant general secretary at Unison, said: 'If we believe the media, it’s only young glamorous women who get harassed. But it’s not just actors and models who suffer. It’s also the cleaner, school secretary, healthcare assistant, call centre worker or finance officer.
'They feel they have to put up with the unwanted touching or personal remarks because they’re worried about their job and making a complaint would affect their future.
'Workplaces should be harassment-free zones. There must be tougher policies, a clearer understanding of what harassment is, and a zero-tolerance approach.'