On 10 September 2021, the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Act 2021 (Respect at Work amendments) took effect.
The changes to the Fair Work Act aim to:
- protect and empower workers to address sexual harassment in the workplace
- include miscarriage as a reason to access compassionate leave.
- introducing stop sexual harassment orders
- defining sexual harassment
- clarifying that sexual harassment at work can be a valid reason for dismissal
- providing compassionate leave for miscarriage.
Summary of changes
The Respect at Work Amendment Act aims to make sure more workers are protected and empowered to address unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Respect at Work Amendment Act has changed the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) by:
- introducing definitions of ‘sexually harass’ and ‘sexually harassed at work’
- expanding the anti-bullying jurisdiction of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to allow it to make orders to stop sexual harassment at work
- clarifying that sexual harassment in connection with an employee’s employment can be a valid reason for dismissal.
The Respect at Work Amendment Act also enables an employee to access their compassionate leave entitlement if the employee or their current spouse or de facto partner has a miscarriage.