Sexual Harassment law changes

Sexual Harassment law changes – Respect@Work 2020 report

HR Managers, employers & business owners – have you reviewed your sexual harassment policies & training in light of working from home & the 55 recommendations contained within the AHRC Respect@Work report relating to the National Sexual Harassment Survey. Read the full report here.

The Morrison Government has unveiled plans to stamp out sexual harassment in the workplace, with the government to adopt all recommendations of the Respect@Work report in part or in full.

Of interest from a workplace training perspective is Recommendation 17 – “Amend the Sex Discrimination Act to introduce a positive duty on all employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation, as far as possible.”

This means more than ever employers need to be proactive.

I recommend that “reasonable and proportionate measures” includes:
1. Having well written, legally complaint and accessible polices in place.
2. Having training for all of your employees to ensure that they fully understand the behavioural expectations of your organisations (as defined in the law & your policies) & clearly understand what sexual harassment is.

Further to that recommendation, there are interesting times ahead for employers and employees in relation to the Fair Work System;

Recommendation 30 – “Amend Section 387 of the Fair Work Act to clarify that sexual harassment can be conduct amounting to a valid reason for dismissal in determining whether a dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable.”

Recommendation 31 – Amend the definition of ‘serious misconduct’ in the Fair Work Regulations to include sexual harassment.

This clarifies for employees that sexual harasmemet is ‘serious misconduct’ and may be grounds for ‘summary (instant) dismissal.’

This combined with Recommendation 17 makes it clear that employers need to make sure that ALL of their employees are very clear about what sexual harassment is and the consequences for engaging in it.

The consequences are serious for employees doing, and also for employers not taking reasonable steps to prevent.

Please contact us or on 02 9674 4279 if you would like more information or would like to book a training course.

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