Empower employers to rid workplace of sexual harassment

Employers, like the rest of the community, want sexual harassment in the workplace to be a thing of the past. There is no place in a modern world for such behaviour.

Acting CEO Jenny Lambert said today’s announcement on the [email protected] Report is a considered response to an extraordinarily challenging issue, “and an important step towards relegating sexual harassment in the workplace to history.

“The Government has rightly prioritised stopping sexual harassment at its source, targeting education and primary prevention of sexual harassment.

“The [email protected] Report revealed some concerning preconceived attitudes can develop at a young age, which are then brought into the workplace and create problems for both employers and employees. Focusing on attitudes before people enter the workforce will make a real impact in the long term.

“It’s positive that Government has recognised the current duplication in sexual harassment laws and, where employer duties in relation to sexual harassment already exists, emphasised the importance of not making the system more complex.

“ACCI cautions that any additional, overlapping and complex legal causes of action risks detracting from, rather than advancing, prevention of sexual harassment. A far more effective way forward is to ensure that employers are clear on their obligations and best practice initiatives for businesses of all sizes.

“ACCI commends the Government’s acceptance of the recommendations around unfair dismissal and ensuring sexual harassment is a valid reason to dismiss a perpetrator. The report reveals harassers are most commonly a co-worker at the same level, and it is concerning that reinstatement remains the primary remedy for unfair dismissal, even where the employee, following a thorough and independent investigation, has been found to have engaged in sexual harassment against another employee. This is not acceptable and more can and should be done to ensure that perpetrators of sexual harassment are not able to misuse the system to re-enter the same workplace.

“We urge the Government to ensure that employers are adequately empowered to take effective action against perpetrators of sexual harassment without fear of financial and legal consequences, and that our courts and tribunals back employers in taking action to stamp out sexual harassment.”

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