Sweeping changes to sexual harassment laws are brought in by Scott Morrison

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 



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