The new Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill 2022 has recently been introduced to Federal Parliament and proposes amendments to the Sexual Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth). The Bill aims to implement recommendations from Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ Respect@Work: National Inquiry Into Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (2020).

Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus introduced the Bill, and in his Second Reading Speech declared the Bill’s focus “shifts responsibility from those who experience that discrimination and harassment to those who are best placed to prevent it: employers”.

The Bill is currently being considered by a Senate Committee which will make recommendations on proposed amendments before it is passed.

In its current form, the Bill includes amendments to the Sexual Discrimination Act which would do the following:

  • prohibit conduct in the workplace that subjects another person to an environment that is hostile on the ground of sex.
  • require employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual and sex-based harassment, hostile work environments, and victimisation.
  • empower the AHRC to inquire into systemic, unlawful discrimination.

The measures employers may need to take to meet their obligations include:

  • implementing policies and procedures
  • collecting and monitoring data
  • providing appropriate support to workers and employees
  • delivering training and education on a regular basis.

Take Out Point: Employers need to follow the progress of this legislation and be ready to implement measures to meet their obligations – especially the positive duty.

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