New sexual harassment and psychosocial laws have come into effect in recent months. These laws mean greater responsibility on employers to ensure that employees receive workplace behaviour training and know how to identify, manage, and respond to incidents that may cause harm.
What are the changes?
The new psychosocial law, Work Health and Safety (Psychosocial Risks) Amendment Regulation 2022 has placed specific obligations on employers to manage psychosocial risk effectively in the workplace. This includes implementing policies and procedures to prevent and manage bullying, investigating and responding to reports of bullying in a timely and effective manner and providing employees with information, instruction, and training on the psychosocial risks in the workplace. Hence, now it is essential for employers to conduct regular workplace behaviour training which covers off these risks.
Sexual harassment laws
New Sexual harassment laws came into effect on 6 March 2023. These laws have made it unlawful to sexually harass someone at work or in connection to the workplace. Employers can be held vicariously liable for sexual harassment which occurs in the workplace. Employees (or their union) can now also apply for a Stop Sexual Harassment Order to have the Fair Work Commission deal with the issue. These changes have made it even more critical than previously for employers to ensure their workforces are trained in which behaviours are acceptable, and which behaviours are not. Further, employers should train their employees on the consequences of inappropriate behaviour and who they should contact internally to raise a complaint about sexual harassment, bullying or other inappropriate behaviour.
How can I manage these changes?
To better defend against claims of sexual harassment, bullying, and other work-related incidents that cause harm, businesses may do the following:
- Implement policies and procedures: Develop policies and procedures that clearly outline and define inappropriate behaviour in the workplace and how it is dealt with (e.g. EEO Harassment and Bullying Policy, Grievance Policy, and Code of Conduct). It is important for employees to know which policies or procedures to refer to and where to find them.
- Provide training for staff and managers: Training should be provided for all staff and managers to educate them on appropriate workplace behaviour and ensure they understand the process of identifying, managing, and responding to risks in the workplace.
- Clear reporting structures: A common issue that can arise in the workplace that may have a risk of causing harm, is when there is not a clear reporting structure. It is vital for an organisation to have a clear organisational structure where employees know who they report to, and who they can go to with their concerns. If there isn’t a clear structure, this could result in employees feeling unsupported, confused as to who the correct contact is and unsafe.
- Commit to regular review and improvement: It is important that a business is continuously reviewing and improving its policies and procedures to ensure they reflect current legal obligations and regulations.
Industryus HR can assist with quality policies and professional in-person or online workplace behaviour training to help your organisation prevent and manage risks that may cause harm in the workplace. Industryus HR’s Workplace Behaviour Training is professionally developed by our in-house employment relations specialists and is tailored to Australian business. We recommend that ALL employers, regardless of size, provide workplace behaviour training to employees at least annually, or more often where issues exist.
If you would like to enquire about Workplace Behaviour Training or outsourced Inductions for your organisation, contact Industryus on 07 5655 4047.
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