Gov­ern­ment Pass­es Land­mark Bill to Com­bat Sex­u­al Harassment

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has passed the Sex Dis­crim­i­na­tion and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amend­ment Bill 2021. The Bill imple­ments cer­tain rec­om­men­da­tions of the Aus­tralian Human Rights Com­mis­sion report, Respect@Work: Nation­al Inquiry into Sex­u­al Harass­ment in Aus­tralian Work­places pre­sent­ed to the Gov­ern­ment by the Sex Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mis­sion­er, Kate Jenk­ins, in March last year. Our sum­ma­ry of the Gov­ern­ment response to the Respect@Work report can be found here: Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment responds to AHRC Respect@Work Report.

Fol­low­ing a heat­ed debate the Gov­ern­ment vot­ed against rec­om­men­da­tions made by Labor and the Greens that all 55 rec­om­men­da­tions of the Respect@Work report be leg­is­lat­ed includ­ing, cru­cial­ly, to amend the Sex Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act to intro­duce a pos­i­tive duty on employ­ers to take rea­son­able mea­sures to elim­i­nate sex dis­crim­i­na­tion, sex­u­al harass­ment and vic­tim­i­sa­tion, where possible.

The Bill as passed by both hous­es, which amends the Fair Work Act 2009, the Aus­tralian Human Rights Com­mis­sion Act 1986 and the Sex Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act 1984, large­ly reflects the Bill as first intro­duced. An excep­tion is the inser­tion of an item that pre­vents a work­er from mak­ing an appli­ca­tion to the FWC for an order to stop bul­ly­ing and/​or sex­u­al harass­ment until two months after the Bill com­mences, in order to give the FWC time to adjust to the changes.

Our update on the Bill can be found here: Gov­ern­ment Intro­duces Bill in Response to Land­mark AHRC Respect@Work Report.

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