Major workplace law changes: Prohibiting sexual harassment
Major workplace law changes: Prohibiting sexual harassment

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Major workplace law changes: Prohibiting sexual harassment
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Posted:
14/11/2023
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As we indicated in the recent workplace law change summary article, the newly introduced provision in the fair work act provides for broader protection against sexual harassment for all workers including potential candidates. So what’s changed?

⚠️ Important information for employers

Did you know that all employers are required to consider and implement timely steps to address the possibility of sexual harassment occurring in the workplace.  By doing so, they may be able to avoid future liability. Employers who fail to take all reasonable steps to prevent workplace sexual harassment may be held vicariously liable and significant penalties have also been introduced. With all these changes on the horizon we know that workplace compliance can quickly become difficult.

Haven’t done this yet? Worknice can help – see how here

New laws prohibiting sexual harassment

Recent changes now mean that a person (the first person) must not in connection with the workplace sexually harass another person (the second person) who is a worker in a business or seeking to become a worker. Furthermore, this prohibition will also include sexual harassment by third parties such as customers or clients to a worker.

What defines the worker?

The definition of a worker is an individual who performs work in any capacity including;

– as an employee,

– contractor,

– subcontractor,

– artworker,

– Apprentice,

– trainee,

– student gaining work experience,

– volunteer.

It is vital that businesses are aware that they are liable for any sexual harassment perpetrated by their employees or agents if the harassment was done in connection with the employment or engagement.

Did you know that all employers are required to consider and implement timely steps to address the possibility of sexual harassment occurring in the workplace.  By doing so, they may be able to avoid future liability. As a result, employers who fail to take all reasonable steps to prevent workplace sexual harassment may be held vicariously liable. Significant penalties have also been introduced. With all these changes on the horizon we know that workplace compliance can quickly become difficult.

Next steps to help you get started

Source Services of Sydney recommend that employers review their sexual harassment policies and business practices. To meet the required standards, changes closely reflect many obligations that currently exist at law.  To assist with the review, we recommend visiting the Respect@work website recently launched to help employers prevent & workers respond to, workplace sexual harassment. 

Any sexual harassment review should involve:

1. Evaluating the effectiveness of current anti-discrimination and harassment policies, including considering whether they:

  • adequately address the new obligations created by the Safe@Work legislation;
  • foster a safe, equitable environment;
  • provide adequate reporting processes and procedures;
  • are effectively communicated to staff, including whether they are continually accessible to staff; and
  • are reviewed and updated, and whether any changes are communicated to staff.

2. Considering what training, if any, is provided to employees to promote a safe and equitable work environment. Consider whether there is an opportunity to undergo additional training such as bystander intervention.

3. Analysing your current risk management framework, including whether the risks of sexual harassment or a hostile work environment have been considered, and the strategies which have been put in place to mitigate those risks.

4. Examining management’s role in promoting a safe, respectful and equitable workplace, including ensuring that management are taking proactive steps and exercising appropriate due diligence in doing so.

How can Worknice technology help employers implement actions to reduce the chance of sexual harassment?

Worknice is designed for Australian mid to large businesses looking to control the HR paperwork chaos while automating compliance across the entire workforce. Below are a few technology based tools that help our current customers implement and manage all the workplace law changes that come now and in the future.

Ensure policy changes with approvals

Powerful workflows and approvals

Automated training & compliance alerts and reminders

Manage new or updated policy acknowledgements with org wide audit trailing

Request a demo

Talk to us about your plans and discover how Worknice can help you automate compliance

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