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Everything you need to know about Scott Morrison’s sexual harassment laws to hit YOUR workforce

From flirting at work to complimenting staff on what they’re wearing: everything you need to know about Scott Morrison’s sweeping new changes about to hit YOUR workforce

Huge changes to Australia’s workplace laws are set to alter the office dynamic around the country for good with unwanted flirting becoming grounds for termination.  

The definition of serious misconduct across all workplaces will be changed to include sexual harassment, which will also be a valid reason for dismissal.

Under human rights laws, the scope for complaints will be extended to two years, from six months, to give victims more time to come forward.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the changes were about changing the culture of Australian workplaces to keep all people safe.

‘Sexual harassment is unacceptable,’ he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

‘It’s not only immoral and despicable and even criminal, but particularly in the context of the Respect at Work report, it denies Australians, especially women, not just their personal security but their economic security.’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday announced the definition of serious misconduct across all workplaces will be changed to include sexual harassment, which will also be a valid reason for dismissal


The prime minister was asked about instances where people sometimes ‘struggle’ to know the difference between flirting and sexual harassment. 

He responded: ‘I think in many cases, we’re dealing with unconscious behaviour and we want to help inform that behaviour.’

‘I think people will happily change their behaviour if they were aware that some of their unconscious acts could be leading to that sense of hurt or dismissal with their fellow Australians.’

Mr Morrison said there were other instances that are ‘malevolent’ and ‘predatory’.

‘In other cases, it’s violent and I think those – those lines are a lot clearer and I think what we’re doing here today brings further force to deal particularly with those types of behaviours,’ he said. 

What is sexual harassment? 

Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in circumstances where a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would anticipate the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.

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 

insults or taunts based on sex 

 Unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against a person 

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