Respect@Work reforms to stamp out sexual harassment

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The mining industry now has a dedicated framework to eliminate sexual harassment once and for all with the Australian Government passing the Respect@Work reforms.

The Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021 makes a number of amendments to the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986, Fair Work Act 2009 and Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

Revising the Fair Work Act 2009, a worker who is sexually harassed at work may apply for a Fair Work Commission (FWC) order to stop the act.

The FWC can make an order to stop sexual harassment following a single occurrence while sexual harassment is now deemed a valid reason for dismissal.

The minimum entitlement for compassionate leave in relation to miscarriage will also be extended as part of changes to the Fair Work Act 2009.

Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) chief executive officer Tania Constable said the passing of the Respect@Work reforms is a capstone moment for the elimination of a persistent issue.

“The MCA commends the Australian Parliament for today passing significant reforms to prevent sexual harassment in workplaces,” she said in a statement.

“Sexual harassment is unacceptable, against the law, and must be eliminated from our culture and workplaces.

“The minerals industry has committed to eliminating sexual harassment in its workplaces and has adopted a National Industry Code that provides clear expectations on members to establish both preventative and response measures to address sexual harassment.

“These amendments will assist industry by ensuring consistent obligations across anti-discrimination laws, workplace laws and work health and safety (WHS) laws.”

It comes after Rio Tinto recently filed a submission to the Community Development and Justice Standing Committee’s Inquiry into Sexual Harassment Against Women in the FIFO Mining Industry.

The 14-page submission saw Rio Tinto take ownership of its own sexual harassment troubles, lighting the way for improvements and proactivity.

Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA) also released its own submission to the inquiry, presenting its frustrations in the high prevalence of sexual harassment.

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