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New laws ban sexual harassment at work

17 March 2023

As part of the Federal Government’s Secure Jobs Better Pay legislation, workplace sexual harassment is prohibited under the Fair Work Act from 6 March 2023.

As part of the reform, the Fair Work Act was amended to ban sexual harassment in connection with work, including in the workplace.

New provisions expand protections from sexual harassment to protect workers, future workers and people conducting a business or undertaking.

A person or company can be liable for sexual harassment conducted by an employee or agent in connection with work – unless they can prove they took all reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment.

The protection applies to:

  • Workers including employees, contractors, work experience students and volunteers
  • Future workers
  • People conducting a business or undertaking.

As part of the changes, the FWC now has greater powers to deal with workplace sexual harassment.

In addition to its existing ‘stop sexual harassment order’ powers, the Commission can deal with disputes about sexual harassment by conciliation, mediation, or recommendations.

If a dispute can’t be resolved these ways, arbitration is an option and the FWC can make an order for compensation, lost wages or requiring a person to reasonably remedy any loss or damage suffered.

Applications can be made to the Commission or in court in some circumstances.

The protection won’t apply to sexual harassment that pre-dates 6 March 2023.

This article was originally published by The Victorian Chamber of Commerce

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