Sexual harassment laws pass Parliament

New anti-discrimination laws tightening the rules around sexual harassment have passed Federalsexual harassment Parliament, prompting workplaces to update their policies and procedures.

The Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021 stipulates that sexual harassment is grounds for termination, and extends the period of time people can make a complaint among other measures.

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

Federal Attorney General Michaelia Cash described the law as a “critical step” in creating a more respectful culture in Australian workplaces.

“This legislation is a critical step forward and will enhance protections against sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination in Australian workplaces,” she said.

Further reading: Sexual harassment reforms explained

The government amended the Bill to allow a two-month grace period for the Fair Work Commission to issue stop sexual harassment orders.

The legislation is expected to come into effect when it receives Royal Assent within the next 14 days.

A summary of the Bill can be found here.

Read More – Addressing Sexual Harassment

CCIWA’s workplace relations team can help workplaces update their policies and procedures. Contact them via our Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or [email protected].

 

WA anti-discrimination laws to change

In addition, WA’s anti-discrimination laws are set to be overhauled, as part of a review of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984.

The Law Reform Commission released a discussion paper this week, with public comment available until October 29, 2021.

The laws were designed to prevent discrimination against people because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and other characteristics.

State Attorney General John Quigley said it was time the laws were “revised to bring them into line with contemporary values and expectations”.

Potential areas for reform include:

  • expanding protections to include gender identity;
  • including physical features as a ground for discrimination;
  • removing the disadvantage requirement for sexual and racial harassment;
  • changing exemptions for religious bodies and schools, charities and voluntary groups;
  • increasing or removing the $40,000 cap for compensation.

CCIWA is preparing a submission to the review on behalf of its members.

To have your say on the issue, contact CCIWA Principal Workplace Relations Advocate Paul Moss on [email protected].

For more on discrimination in the workplace, visit our exclusive members-only Business Toolbox section.

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