The positive duty on employers around sexual discrimination and harassment means that businesses need to take active steps to prevent sexual discrimination and harassment.  Following a recent case where multiple serious breaches were sustained because of single point reporting structures safety regulators are calling on all businesses to review their reporting and ensure that all levels of management are trained in this vital area.

Every employer has a duty to ensure that workers are not subjected to sexual discrimination or harassment at or because of their work.

As ACAPMAg has previously covered this duty is a proactive one that is somewhat different to the operation of other safety requriements at work – https://acapmag.com.au/2024/01/positive-duty-recap-sex-discrimination-act/

Learnings for business

A recent case has led to work health and safety regulators calling on all businesses to review their structures to support reporting of sexual harassment and misconduct.

“In this particular case the employee suffered through multiple serious breaches and harassments due to the offender being perceived to be ‘very close’ to the only reporting point, the owner”, explains ACAPMAs Elisha Radwanowski.

“Businesses should be taking this warning seriously, and considering all possible scenarios from the point of view of the staff.  If the business policy directs staff to report any complaints or concerns to the Site Manager, what is the employee to do if the Site Manager is the offender?”, outlines Elisha.

“Ideally reporting structures should allow for reporting of breaches to anyone in management and to draw that pool as widely as possible.

“While it is true that in a small business there may only be one or two people that are in the business, so a detailed or wide reporting structure may not be an option, in these cases it is even more important to emphasise that regardless of the scenario claims will be treated seriously and that victims will not face reprisals for brining misconduct to the businesses attention”, concludes Elisha.

Train all managers now

The safety regulators have also cautioned businesses to ensure that they are actively training all managers in their responsibilities under the new positive duties to ensure that the business and the managers, are supporting compliant operations.

The ACAPMA Fuel Convenience Compliance (FCC) Level 2 Course for Onsite Managers encompasses a detailed review of all managers employment and safety duties, including the positive duty to prevent sexual discrimination and harassment.  For more information on the ACAPMA FCC Level 2 courses see; https://acapma.com.au/our-services/training/fuel-convenience-retail-training-solutions/

Here to help

Safety Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business.  They are provided as general information for you to consider and do not constitute advice.  You should seek further advice on your situation by contacting your legal advisor.  ACAPMA members can access resources and receive advice, guidance and support from the ACAPMA employment professionals via employment@acapma.com.au  , it is free for members.  ACAPMA Membership delivers this and more benefits, see; https://acapma.com.au/membership/    for more information.

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)
ACAPMA

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