From 6 March, 2023, the The Fair Work Act will prohibit sexual harassment in connection with work, which includes the workplace.
You might be thinking:, “isn’t this already prohibited? It is in our business …” and so maybe nothing much has to change?
The changes in Fair Work and the implementation of all fifty five Respect@Work report recommendations mean that A LOT will change! While many organisations have policies specifically forbidding sexual harassment and have processes for dealing with complaints, under the new rules, that is not enough.
From 6 March, a person or company will also be liable for sexual harassment committed by an employee or agent in connection with work, unless they can prove that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment.
Simply dealing with an issue when it arises is no longer enough.
There is now a new framework for managing sexual harassment in the workplace and while the size and resources of your business will determine what should reasonably be implemented, the new framework means that everyone will need to be much more proactive in dealing with Respect@Work. Not having this framework in place from March leaves businesses at a high risk of falling afoul of the new rules.
The New Framework
Image source: respectatwork.gov.au
With seven elements (four preventative and three around response) we can see the shift in thinking. Things to think about include:
- lead yourself – leaders are accountable for their own actions
- lead your people – leaders are accountable for those they lead and influence
- lead your organisation – leaders are accountable for shaping culture
- what we say
- how we act
- what we prioritise
- what we measure
- Risk Assessment
- likelihood of sexual harassment occurring, and
- actions to eliminate or minimise that risk
- understand workplace culture
- influence workplace culture
- act on and understand Gender inequality
- diversity and inclusion in the workplace
- policy and the effect on workplace culture
- human resource practices
- consultation protocols
- person-centred (not systems-centred) approach to workplace sexual harassment
- listening to, empowering and supporting people who are impacted by sexual harassment
- multiple reporting avenues
- multiple resolution pathways
- flexible reporting avenues for victims – provide diverse options in organisational response and prioritise early intervention
- timely response to reports
- proportionate and consistent outcomes or consequences applied
- creating a cyclical and continuous process rather than a one-off exercise
- identifying what data to measure
- communicating insights
- operationalising actions plans and re-measuring
Where to from here?
Our team of employee experts can help you and your organisation with the Respect@Work changes, including everything from policies and procedures through to systems design, communication, training and evaluation.
Contact us directly to discuss how this framework could be implemented in your business, or drop us a line via:
Phone: (02) 8021 4206
Please note: the opinions above are general in nature and are not intended as specific advice for any person/organisation.