Sweeping changes made to sexual harassment laws which could change the Australian workplace forever and see staffers fired for unwanted compliments – here’s what it means for your office
Scott Morrison will move to toughen up sexual harassment laws with a series of changes that will make it easier to fire offenders.
The government will change the workplace laws to catagorise harassment as serious misconduct, meaning an employee can be terminated for offences such as making unwanted sexual advances.
Mr Morrison also wants to include sexual harassment in stop bullying orders which allow employees to request to work different shifts to a bullying boss or colleague.
Attorney-general Michaelia Cash said the new rules will bring clarity for employers.
‘So we are going to ensure they know… that if you want, if sexual harassment is occurring in the workplace and it is proven, you can terminate a person for that.’
Under the changes, MPs and judges will no longer be exempt from the Sex Discrimination Act.
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