Changes to workplace sexual harassment laws.
Prohibition is set to ‘cure the cause not the effect!’

Sadly, sexual harassment and sex discrimination continue to be an ongoing concern in Australian workplaces.

To assist with curing the cause’ in our workplaces, the Federal Government has made changes to legislation that includes prohibition on sexual harassment.

On 6 December 2022, the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill was passed into law.

This new Act, the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022 (the Act), makes significant changes to the Fair Work Act (Cth) 2009, to reform Australia’s workplace relations system. It also complements other legislative amendments made by the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Act 2022.

This article is to inform employers about what they need to do to prepare for the changes to workplace sexual harassment laws. The changes will affect all businesses (regardless of size).

The Changes

The Act increases protections and gives employees, contractors, prospective employees and third parties (customers/clients/suppliers) a new way to deal with complaints.

The Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman are responsible for implementing the prohibition of sexual harassment and resolving disputes.
Individuals will have a choice to pursue their complaints (make a claim to resolve dispute) through the Fair Work Commission, the Australian Human Rights Commission or the applicable state and territory anti-discrimination processes.

The changes come into effect on 6 March 2023.

Prepare for changes effective 6 March 2023

All businesses (regardless of size):

  • have a positive duty to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible. This extends to third parties (customers/clients/suppliers). ‘Reasonableness’ will depend on the size and  the nature/circumstances of your business (includes available resources, practicability and cost).
  • must guard against conduct that subjects another person to a hostile workplace environment on the ground of sex (discrimination and harassment).

Where to start?

  • Inform management about their obligations.
  • Review your workplace culture. Could your workplace be a hostile environment?
  • Conduct risk assessments to identify the likelihood of unlawful sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation occurring in your workplace. Take the necessary steps to eliminate or control any identified risks.
  • Develop and implement a plan to prevent unlawful sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation from occurring in your workplace.
  • Update your policies and procedures to demonstrate you are making proactive changes where required. Do your policies and procedures reflect a positive duty?
  • Update your complaints procedure. Adopt a ‘victim centric’ approach to managing complaints. All complaints must be treated seriously and investigated promptly.
  • Training at induction and every 12-months for everyone in the workplace to make sure your people have read and understood the contents of your policies and procedures.
  • Regular reinforcement. Communicate and consult with everyone in the workplace. Conduct toolbox talks, round table discussions, provide information in emails and social media posts that reflect a positive duty and appropriate workplace behaviour.

The culture of your workplace

The culture of your workplaces is shaped by the worst behaviour you are prepared to tolerate/accept.

For good reason, you can no longer afford to tolerate people that engage in behaviour(s) that constitute sexual harassment or, for that matter, any other form of unacceptable behaviour.

If you choose to do nothing, you may not be in a position to appropriately manage complaints. You may be held vicariously liable for the actions of a person in your business or a person associated with your business, that engages in behaviour(s) that constitute sexual harassment, sex discrimination and/or victimisation.

Having trouble getting started? Do you need our help?

Ulton’s HR Consulting services can assist you with meeting your employer obligations, in the areas of:

  • Provision of policies and procedures to manage unlawful sex discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and all other forms of unacceptable workplace behaviour
  • A confidential complaint procedure for receiving and managing complaints
  • Respect @ Work training and awareness workshops for your people

Training outcomes include:

Participants will learn about the changes in the law and what constitutes unacceptable workplace behaviour, preventing/eliminating unacceptable behaviour from occurring in the workplace and so much more.

Relevant case studies and real life examples to put training content into context. Participants engage in discussions and interactive activities. An assessment is completed by all participants during the training workshop.

All participants will receive a handbook and certificate of participation upon completion.

If you are interested in this training, please reach out to Christine Guy on (07) 4154 0413 or

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