From 11 November 2021, a worker who has been sexually harassed at work will be able to apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the sexual harassment. This brings the treatment of sexual harassment into line with the approach taken with workplace harassment/bullying.

In brief, sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in circumstances where a reasonable person would anticipate the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. 

A stop sexual harassment order aim to prevent a worker from being sexually harassed at work. Workers can apply to the Fair Work Commission for a sop sexual harassment order based on a single incidence and it is not necessary for them to show that there is a continued risk to their health and safety people to the Commission making an order.

What the Commission Does   

The Commission is required to start to deal with an application within 14 days.  Part of this may be requesting further information such as copies of documents, directing people to attend a conciliation conference, holding a hearing or requiring people to attend before the Commission.

What steps should businesses take?  

The Commission must take into account any procedures that are available to employees to resolve grievances or disputes, and outcomes from any investigations or dispute resolution procedures.

This means that it is more important than ever to have your policies and systems in order.  Businesses should have:

  • A Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy
  • A Grievance, Conflict and Dispute Handling Policy
  • Appropriately trained individuals to act as contact officers 
  • Systems and people in place to conduct investigations and dispute resolution processes when needed (this may by an internal person our outsourced to third party professionals)

If you require assistance in setting up thorough policies, educating employees or dealing with grievances, please contact us.