What a whirlwind the last few weeks has been in the media regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. It highlights the need for change in an urgent and immediate way to protect persons subjected to sexual harassment.
Under the proposed changes, sexual harassment will be grounds for dismissal from a workplace, and the Sex Discrimination Act will be extended to include Judges and MPs. This comes off the back of serious allegations in the Parliamentary sector and other sectors that are coming to light.
It is anticipated that conduct of sexual harassment will be added to the definitions as part of the definitions of serious misconduct of the Fair Work Act 2009.
There will also be an extension under the Human Rights Act to allow victims 2 years rather than 6 months to bring a complaint.
It is important to note that politicians, judges will no longer be exempt, closing an important loophole that for too long allowed powerful people in the country to be above the law.
The new laws will open up the ability for victims to seek justice in a straightforward route rather than the current limited and difficult route that exists.
All employers have a responsibility in the workplace under the Work Health and Safety Laws to create a safe, healthy and respectful workplace.
SafeWork Australia released in January 2021 a detailed document that outlines what is workplace sexual harassment, what might it look like, impacts and prevention within a workplace. It is important that employers implement policies and procedures relating to sexual harassment as part of the induction, training and review of employees.
If you need help to set up employment contracts and policies, we at Coutts can help you ensure your business is compliant with the laws.
ABOUT KARENA NICHOLLS:
Karena is a Partner at Coutts and is the Head of our Injury Compensation (with extensive knowledge in personal injury) and Employment Law teams. She is passionate and dedicated to helping her clients understand their rights and obligations and advising them on the best course of action to achieve their desired outcomes. It is her practical and client-orientated approach that has attributed to her authentic reputation positioning her as a highly regarded compensation and employment lawyer.
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