Phrases like “chuck like a girl” are out and employees have longer to make complaints under new workplace harassment rules. Here are the old and new laws.
Phrases like “chuck like a girl” are out and employees have longer to make complaints under new workplace harassment rules. Here are the old and new laws.

The new do’s and don’ts of workplace sexual harassment

Sexual harassment has always been wrong, but how it has been treated in law has too often been a grey area, with employers not necessarily able to fire harassers for their behaviour, and carve-outs existing for MPs and judges.

All that is about to change, though, if the Prime Minister's latest announcement is any guide.

Scott Morrison unveiled plans on Thursday to stamp out sexual harassment in the workplace, with the government to adopt all recommendations of the Respect@Work report in part or in full.

The new women's taskforce met for the first time on Tuesday and discussed the government's response to the report handed down by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins more than a year ago.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison making the announcement with Senator Michaelia Cash. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage
Prime Minister Scott Morrison making the announcement with Senator Michaelia Cash. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

Mr Morrison confirmed the federal government had accepted all 55 recommendations - which he described as a "game changer" - either wholly, in part, or in principle.

The measures would place more onus on employers to stamp out sexual harassment and discrimination.

The Daily Telegraph breaks down the old and new workplace harassment set to come into place:

Old rules: Six months to make a complaint

New rules: Two years

Old rules: Sexual harassment not an explicitly fireable offence

New rules: Regulations to be changed to add sexual harassment to the definition of "serious misconduct"

Old rules: MPs, judges, and state public servants exempt from workplace harassment laws

New rules: Rules to be changed to remove exemptions and include MPs, judges and public servants

Old rules: Gendered language OK

New rules: Government asking people to work on gendered phrases such as "chuck like a girl"

 

WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

Sexual harassment can include:

- Unwelcome touching, hugging, cornering or kissing

- Inappropriate staring or leering

- Suggestive comments or jokes

- Using suggestive or sexualised nicknames for co-workers

- Sexually explicit pictures, posters or gifts

- Circulating sexually explicit material

- Persistent unwanted invitations to go out on dates

- Requests or pressure for sex

- Intrusive questions or comments about a person's private life or body

- Unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against a person

- Insults or taunts based on sex

- Sexual gestures or indecent exposure

- Following, watching or loitering nearby another person

- Sexually explicit or indecent physical contact

- Sexually explicit or indecent emails, phone calls, text messages or online interactions

- Repeated or inappropriate advances online

- Threatening to share intimate images or film without consent

- Actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.

(Source: Safe Work Australia)

Originally published as The new do's and don'ts of workplace sexual harassment


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