The level of sexual harassment in the workplace is "shameful", with women being subjected to unwelcome jokes, verbal advances, suggestive remarks and even demands for sexual favours, a report has found.

A survey of 1,500 women found that a third had been subjected to unwelcome jokes, while one in four received sex-related comments about their body or clothes.

The TUC report, entitled 'Still just a bit of banter?', found that the problem was worse for younger women, with almost two-thirds of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they have suffered sexual harassment at work.

One in four of the women surveyed had been touched and one in eight said someone had tried to kiss them.

In most cases, the perpetrator was male, with nearly one in five women saying it was their line manager, or someone with direct authority over them.

Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary, said: "How many times do we still hear that sexual harassment in the workplace is just a bit of 'banter'?

"Sexual harassment is undermining, humiliating and can have a huge effect on mental health. Victims are often left feeling ashamed and frightened. It has no place in a modern workplace, or in wider society.

"Employers must be clear they have a zero tolerance attitude to sexual harassment and treat any complaint seriously. It's a scandal that so few women feel their bosses are dealing with the issue properly."

The Women’s Equality Party said the report clearly shows the extent to which women must “run a gauntlet” of sexual attitudes in the workplace.

Party leader Sophie Walker said: “The situation is disgraceful. More than forty years after the Sex Discrimination Act was passed to tackle sexism in the workplace, not nearly enough has changed.

“While we are pleased this report is drawing attention to the scourge of sexual harassment – which still holds far too many women back from fulfilling their potential at work – we are appalled by the scale of the problem it reveals.”

The TUC said sexual harassment at work took many forms, from suggestive remarks, jokes about a colleague's sex life and circulating pornography, to inappropriate touching, hugging or kissing, or demands for sexual favours.

Four out of five women who said they experienced sexual harassment at work did not tell their employer, fearing it would affect their relationships at work, hit their career prospects or they were too embarrassed to talk about it.

Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, said: "Many people would like to think that workplace sexual harassment is a thing of the past. In reality, it is alive and well, and having a huge impact on tens of thousands of women's lives.

"These findings reveal the shameful extent of the problem and the reality of the touching, unwanted advances and inappropriate comments women find themselves confronted with while simply trying to do their jobs.

"Employers need to take urgent action to tackle the problem."