Proposed changes to the definition of serious misconduct to include sexual harassment

Workplace Relations & Safety

BREAKING NEWS: On 8 April 2021, the Federal Government announced proposed amendments to the definition of "serious misconduct" in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to include sexual harassment, and that sexual harassment can be a valid reason for dismissal.

On 5 March 2020, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, released the landmark [email protected]: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report, that contained 55 recommendations. On 8 April 2021, the Federal Government agreed to all of the recommendations, in part or in principle.

Among other changes expected to be introduced is a two-year time frame in which individuals can make a complaint of sex discrimination to the Australian Human Rights Commission after the alleged conduct occurred. Such complaints generally need to be made within six months of the alleged conduct occurring.

For employers, the Report is significant, as will be the proposed changes. It reinforces that employers are required to proactively eradicate sexual harassment in the workplace and to maintain workplaces that are healthy, safe, and free from unlawful harassment and discrimination.

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