The Australian government recently introduced new legislation known as Respect@Work to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. The aim is to create a safer and more respectful workplace culture. It requires employers to take proactive measures to prevent and address sexual harassment.
New obligations on employers
Under the new legislation, employers have a legal obligation to ensure that their workplace is free from sexual harassment. This includes
- implementing policies and procedures to prevent sexual harassment,
- Providing training to employees; and,
- Responding to complaints of sexual harassment in a timely and effective manner.
Definition of Sexual Harassment
The new legislation defines sexual harassment as:
“any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behavior that makes a person feel offended, humiliated, or intimidated. This can include verbal, physical, or online behavior, and can occur in any workplace setting”
Serious consequences for Employers
Employers who fail to comply with the new legislation can face serious consequences, including fines and legal action. In addition, failing to address sexual harassment in the workplace can result:
- In a loss of productivity,
- Increased absenteeism and turnover;, and,
- Damage to the organization’s reputation.
What employers need to do to comply
To comply with the Respect@Work legislation, employers should take a proactive approach to preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. This includes:
- Developing and implementing policies and procedures that clearly define:
- What constitutes sexual harassment,
- How to report incidents,; and,
- The steps that will be taken to investigate and address complaints.
- Employers should also provide regular training to employees on sexual harassment prevention and response,
- Provide support and resources to employees who have experienced sexual harassment.
- Establish clear reporting mechanisms,
- Take all complaints of sexual harassment seriously, investigating them promptly and taking appropriate action to address the situation.
Overall, the Respect@Work legislation is an important step towards creating a safer and more respectful workplace culture in Australia.
A great place for resources is the Respect@Work website at Respect@Work | Respect@Work (respectatwork.gov.au)
Would you like any further information on this article or assistance with implementing practices aimed at preventing sexual harassment in your business? Please contact us on:
Telephone: 1800 HR Smartz (1800 477 627)