AICD supports positive duty under Sexual Discrimination Act

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement to open consultation on the remaining Respect@Work Report recommendations.

The AICD participated in the Government’s earlier consultation in 2021 on the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Act 2021 (Respect@Work Amendment Act), supporting important legislative changes to both the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Fair Work Act 2009 that have given effect to a number of the Respect@Work Report recommendations.

The AICD has announced its in principle support for the introduction of a positive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment occurring in the workplace under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (the Act)

AICD Managing Director and CEO, Angus Armour, said, “The AICD supports strengthening measures to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and looks forward to reviewing the Government’s proposal in closer detail.”

Under the current legal framework in Australia, employers can be liable for sexual harassment misconduct only if an incident of sexual harassment occurs and an individual complaint has been made.

“A key benefit of a positive duty would be the important cultural and normative impact it will have within organisations. It would shift the burden from individuals having to make complaints, to one where employers must continuously assess whether they are meeting the requirements of the duty to take proactive and preventative action.

“Boards have an important leadership role in addressing and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. As a leadership issue it is relevant to the spectrum of the board’s work, from oversight of organisational culture and risk management, through to workplace health and safety,” Mr Armour said.

The AICD welcomes the opportunity to consult with Government on these important reforms.

Media Contact: Maegen Sykes 0439 167 567

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