Radical change is needed to tackle workplace sexual harassment amid growing concern employers are failing to address the problem, legal experts have warned.

Lawyers say sexual harassment cases appear to be on the rise in the workplace, but victim blaming, flawed processes and a desire for accusations to be "brushed under the carpet" are all contributing to botched investigations.

They believe changes need to made to the law and stricter regulations put in place for businesses to ensure complainers are treated fairly.

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Solicitor Jillian Merchant, an employment specialist with Thompsons, said: "It's one of these things that employers seem to find really difficult, but actually it's not.

"All they need to do is investigate both sides and make a decision, but the issue is that they don't want to make that decision.

"They don't want to come to a view on it and a lot of the time it's fudged, they say the comments were taken out of context, or it's just dismissed.

"You also get quite a lot of cases of victim blaming.

"One particularly horrendous case I'm aware of is one in which a woman was asked 'do you think it's appropriate to say no twice?'.

"In other cases women have been asked if they were wearing flirtatious clothing.

"It takes so much for people to raise a complaint, but sadly employers often let them down at the first hurdle."

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The lawyer, who says growing numbers of women are coming forward with complaints, believes a "degree of radical thinking" is needed to tackle the issue as "leaving it to individual employers just isn't working".

"Even the big employers get it wrong, so what chance have smaller firms got of getting it anywhere near correct?" she said.

Ms Merchant would like to see more being done to hold employers and perpetrators to account, including introducing a register of complaints to stop the behaviour being repeated time and again.

She is also calling for changes to the employment tribunal system which would allow victims more time to raise a case.

Currently, workers only have three months from the date of the harassment to lodge a claim, however employers' internal investigations often last longer than this, leaving victims with no recourse if they are unhappy with the outcome.

Ms Merchant added: "A lot of employers are pretty uninformed about where the blame should lie with this type of thing.

"They can start questioning the woman about things she has said previously in the workplace, or about a bikini picture she posted on facebook, the suggestion being that she should expect the unwanted conduct if she does these things.

"But from an employment law point of view it's the unwanted conduct complained of that should be investigated."

Research by the TUC shows that more than half of women in the UK have experienced some form of sexual harassment at work.

Under the Equality Act, employers are liable for this harassment unless they take reasonable steps to prevent it, and firms can be taken to an employment tribunal if they do not.

However, many are still failing to take appropriate action, with a 2018 report from the Women and Equalities Select Committee describing the problem as an "epidemic of inaction and poor practice".

In a bid to help more women navigate the process, the Scottish Women's Rights Centre (SWRC) is launching a new sexual harassment service later this year, which will offer advice and information, as well as providing legal representation.

The service, financed by the Rosa fund for women and girls, will focus on harassment in the workplace and further education.

Sarah Crawford, SWRC's lead solicitor, said that when sexual harassment victims approach the centre for help, it is usually due to the way their employer has dealt with it.

She said they have had reports of investigation deficiencies, victim blaming, women's claims being minimised and women being victimised because of reporting the harassment.

"If employers do not handle reports of sexual harassment well, have policies and procedures in place and follow them, this can perpetuate workplace sexual harassment - by preventing victims from speaking out, allowing people to think they can get away with harassment, and normalising or condoning inappropriate behaviour," Ms Crawford said.

The solicitors also claimed that even when the investigation is at an end, women can continue to suffer as a result of speaking out.

They are often moved to another department or workplace, while the perpetrator continues to work as normal.

Ms Merchant told of one case involving a care home worker who complained of a male colleague rubbing against her. Instead of action being taken against her colleague, the woman was put to work on a reception desk and told she was not allowed to move without permission.

While Ms Crawford added: "One of the things that causes women a great deal of difficulty is if they require to continue to work with the person who has harassed them and sometimes women have resigned due to this."

In December, following the Women and Equalities Select Committee report on sexual harassment, the UK Government announced plans for a new Code of Practice to help tackle workplace harassment.

They are also planning to do more work with ACAS and the EHRC to raise awareness of the problem with employers, as well as consulting on whether or not the time limit should be extended in employment tribunals.