book a virtual meeting Search Search
brisbane

level 16, 324 queen st,
brisbane qld 4000
+61 7 3235 0400

dandenong

40-42 scott st,
dandenong vic 3175
+61 3 9794 2600

melbourne

level 7, 600 bourke st,
melbourne vic 3000
+61 3 8615 9900

sydney

level 21, 20 bond st,
sydney nsw 2000
+61 2 8298 9533

hello. we’re glad you’re
getting in touch.

Fill in form below, or simply call us on 1800 888 966

On 24 June 2021, the Government introduced the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021 (Bill) but what are the implications of the Bill and how will they affect your workplace?

As discussed in this article, the Government published its response to the Respect@Work Report by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins in April. The Bill gives effect to the Government’s response and will have significant implications on employers.

the Bill explained 

The Bill introduces several amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FWA), the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (SDA) and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (AHRCA), implementing 6 recommendations of the total 55 recommendations made in the Respect@Work Report.

The recommendations proposed to be implemented by the Bill are:

  1. amending the SDA to expressly prohibit:
    a) sex-based harassment; and
    b) the creation or facilitation of an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive environment on the basis of sex;
  2. amending the SDA to expand the definition of “workplace participant” and “workplace” to cover all persons in the world of work, including paid and unpaid workers, and those who are self-employed;
  3. widening the application of section 105 of the SDA to ensure that it applies to sexual harassment by extending the ambit of section 105 of the SDA to those who cause, instruct, induce, permit or aid another person to do acts of sexual harassment or harassment on the ground of sex;
  4. extending the timeframe to make a sexual discrimination complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission from 6 months to 24 months;
  5. creating a ‘stop sexual harassment order’ and extending the jurisdiction of the Fair Work Commission to make these orders, similar to stop bullying orders; and
  6. amending the FWA to make sexual harassment a valid reason for dismissal when determining whether a dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

In addition, the Bill also proposes the extension of existing compassionate leave entitlements to include miscarriage. This would entitle an employee to up to 2 days of compassionate leave if they or their current partner suffers a miscarriage.

implications for employers

These changes will have a significant impact on employers and their complaints process. For employers, it will mean that:

  1. employment documentation and policies will need to be amended to reflect changes to the law regarding sexual harassment and miscarriage compassionate leave, which may involve industrial organisations if a workforce uses an enterprise agreement;
  2. complaints processes will need to be reviewed and amended to reflect changes to the law;
  3. complaints processes will need to be reviewed to ensure that organisations respond effectively to sexual harassment claims and complaints; and
  4. training will need to be conducted with employees so that employees understand changes to the law and its consequences for their workplace conduct.

contact us for advice

If you would like further information about the legislative changes detailed in the Bill, or if you require tailored and practical assistance preparing your workplace for the implementation of these changes, please contact our Employment, Safety and Migration team.

stay up to date with our news & insights

how will the new sex discrimination bill affect your workplace?

30 June 2021
stella gehrckens natalie montalto

On 24 June 2021, the Government introduced the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021 (Bill) but what are the implications of the Bill and how will they affect your workplace?

As discussed in this article, the Government published its response to the Respect@Work Report by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins in April. The Bill gives effect to the Government’s response and will have significant implications on employers.

the Bill explained 

The Bill introduces several amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FWA), the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (SDA) and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (AHRCA), implementing 6 recommendations of the total 55 recommendations made in the Respect@Work Report.

The recommendations proposed to be implemented by the Bill are:

  1. amending the SDA to expressly prohibit:
    a) sex-based harassment; and
    b) the creation or facilitation of an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive environment on the basis of sex;
  2. amending the SDA to expand the definition of “workplace participant” and “workplace” to cover all persons in the world of work, including paid and unpaid workers, and those who are self-employed;
  3. widening the application of section 105 of the SDA to ensure that it applies to sexual harassment by extending the ambit of section 105 of the SDA to those who cause, instruct, induce, permit or aid another person to do acts of sexual harassment or harassment on the ground of sex;
  4. extending the timeframe to make a sexual discrimination complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission from 6 months to 24 months;
  5. creating a ‘stop sexual harassment order’ and extending the jurisdiction of the Fair Work Commission to make these orders, similar to stop bullying orders; and
  6. amending the FWA to make sexual harassment a valid reason for dismissal when determining whether a dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

In addition, the Bill also proposes the extension of existing compassionate leave entitlements to include miscarriage. This would entitle an employee to up to 2 days of compassionate leave if they or their current partner suffers a miscarriage.

implications for employers

These changes will have a significant impact on employers and their complaints process. For employers, it will mean that:

  1. employment documentation and policies will need to be amended to reflect changes to the law regarding sexual harassment and miscarriage compassionate leave, which may involve industrial organisations if a workforce uses an enterprise agreement;
  2. complaints processes will need to be reviewed and amended to reflect changes to the law;
  3. complaints processes will need to be reviewed to ensure that organisations respond effectively to sexual harassment claims and complaints; and
  4. training will need to be conducted with employees so that employees understand changes to the law and its consequences for their workplace conduct.

contact us for advice

If you would like further information about the legislative changes detailed in the Bill, or if you require tailored and practical assistance preparing your workplace for the implementation of these changes, please contact our Employment, Safety and Migration team.