CCIWA releases guide on sexual harassment laws

Businesses seeking help to navigate the Federal Government’s new sexual harassment laws can now access detailed information on the changes in CCIWA’s Respect@Work Employer Guide.

The guide, created with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, seeks to explain the new laws and answer some of the common questions employers have around the changes.

It also outlines what actions businesses should consider to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and ensure they are compliant with the new laws.

Read more: Sexual harassment laws pass Parliament

The Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021, which came into effect on September 11, 2021, comprises changes to the Fair Work Act, the Sex Discrimination Act and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act.

Key measures include:

  • Sex Discrimination Act expanded to include interns, volunteers and self-employed workers;
  • Sexual harassment defined as grounds for termination;
  • Victimising conduct can now form the basis of a civil action;
  • The period of time people can make a complaint increased to two years;
  • Women who experience miscarriage, and their partners, can now access up to two days’ compassionate leave.

In addition, the Fair Work Commission’s anti-bullying jurisdiction has also been extended to deal with sexual harassment claims, with effect from November 11.

Read More – Addressing Sexual Harassment

The legislation acts on recommendations from the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Respect@Work report, which advocated a cultural shift on sexual harassment.

CCIWA’s Respect@Work Employer Guide includes practical actions such as:

  1. Implement, or review and update policies and procedures
  2. Ensure awareness of the changes
  3. Implement or review training programs and consider refreshed training
  4. Implement or review internal complaints procedures
  5. Take steps to create a healthy and safe work environment
  6. Update leave policies to include miscarriage leave

CCIWA Workplace Relations Director Ryan Martin said with the legislative changes now in effect and covering multiple Acts, it was important that businesses familiarised themselves with the updated laws.

“CCIWA’s Respect@Work Guide provides a detailed explanation of each of the changes as well as case studies and practical tips for each new measure,” he said.

Martin said businesses should act now to ensure their policies and procedures are up to date and provide training to their workforce. If businesses had questions or a situation not covered by the guide they should seek advice.

For tailored advice, contact CCIWA’s Workplace Relations team on 1300 422 492 or via [email protected].

For general advice and guidance, contact CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or [email protected].

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