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Respect@Work Bill passes Parliament

Published November 29, 2022 (last updated on February 27, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer


The Australian Government has introduced the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect@Work) Bill 2022.

Initially introduced by the Albanese government, the bill seeks to implement seven of the 55 recommendations of Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins in her landmark report published in March 2020.

The Respect@Work Report proposed a new approach involving government, employers, and the community, to better prevent and respond to workplace sexual harassment and provide leadership in addressing this complex issue.

Workplace sexual harassment

One in three people experienced sexual harassment at work in the past five years, with women experiencing higher rates of harassment than men.

Research has also found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with a disability, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to experience workplace sexual harassment.

Workplace sexual harassment can happen to anybody and lead to physical and emotional issues. It can impact productivity, affect employee morale, and result in harm and trauma.

Workplace sexual harassment costs the Australian economy approximately $3.5 billion a year.

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What does Respect@Work mean for employers?

Under the new law, employers have a ‘positive duty’ to take measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and victimisation in the workplace as far as possible.

The new laws also give the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) new functions to assess and enforce the compliance of workplaces in eliminating harassment, discrimination, and victimisation. It gives AHRC the power to issue compliance notices to employers not meeting their duties.

The new law prohibits conduct that leads to a hostile work environment based on sex.

There will be a 12-month transition period before the law takes effect. Employers are encouraged to start making necessary changes in the workplace ahead of the law’s implementation.

How can Employsure help you?

Employsure has worked with 30,000 business owners across Australia and New Zealand, supporting them with employment relations and workplace health and safety. Call our 24/7 Advice Line today to understand how these latest changes affect your workplace.

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