Journalist harassed and groped at Diggers and Dealers. Has anything changed in the mining industry?
Geraldton hairdresser regularly propositioned for sexual services by customers, due to her race and gender.
Bakers Delight may serve up warnings to customers against sexually harassing their staff.
These stories all made media headlines in the last week.
Our society has become more and more conscious of sexual harassment – so why is it still a headline issue and a serious risk for businesses?
The answer is complex, but also simple. Employers can’t control the behaviour of their staff. Conference organisers can’t control the behaviour of their attendees. Those who run customer facing businesses can’t control the behaviour of their customers.
They can only take reasonable steps to prevent this unacceptable behaviour and protect their staff. Those in Victoria must take active steps to prevent such conduct, as Victorian laws prescribe a higher onus on employers. The rest of the country might soon follow suit.
Employers have always had a duty to take steps to prevent unlawful conduct like sexual harassment. These steps often include implementing policies and training staff in appropriate behaviour and what to do if they experience or observe harassment.
In light of the Federal Government’s commitment to implement the Respect@Work recommendations, a result of the 2020 National Inquiry Report, employers will now need to go further.
Like Bakers Delight, businesses may need to have sexual harassment prevention plans. Larger companies may be required to report on their sexual harassment track record when submitting tenders. Executives will have KPIs around eliminating unlawful conduct within their teams and businesses.
Now is not the time to wait until a complaint is made in your organisation. Now is the time to audit your sexual harassment prevention framework.
With the change to harmonised work health and safety laws, businesses have started preparing to ensure they were applying best practice, well before the new laws came into force in WA.
If your business has an inclusive and harassment free culture you wish to maintain, now is the time to step up to the new standards and go further to prevent inappropriate conduct.
Pragma Lawyers' specialist employment lawyers can assist to audit your harassment prevention framework, as well as prepare sexual harassment preventions plans, making your business a leader in preventing sexual harassment. If you have any questions about this article or to seek advice, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on (08) 6188 3340 and ask to speak to a member of our employment team.