Mining sector backs Respect@Work reforms
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has commended the Australian Parliament for passing significant reforms to prevent sexual harassment in workplaces. These amendments will assist industry by ensuring consistent obligations across anti-discrimination laws, workplace laws and WHS laws. 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.
The Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021 implements the Australian Government’s response to a number of recommendations in the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Respect@Work Report. The legislation implements the government’s commitments in response to recommendations 16, 20, 21, 22, 29 and 30 of the Respect@Work Report, by clarifying that harassing a person on the basis of sex is prohibited under the Sex Discrimination Act.
The legislation also creates a new object clause to clarify that the Sex Discrimination Act aims to achieve equality of opportunity between men and women. The legislation strives to protect more workers from sexual harassment, particularly vulnerable workers, by broadening the scope of people covered by the Sex Discrimination Act and clarifying that members of parliament and judges (and their staff) are covered by the Sex Discrimination Act. The legislation will also extend the time frame for which a complaint can be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission to reduce procedural barriers for complainants under the Sex Discrimination Act. Additionally, it clarifies that a complaint of victimisation can be considered as either a civil or criminal matter.
“This legislation is a critical step forward and will enhance protections against sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination in Australian workplaces,” said the Attorney-General, Michaelia Cash.
The legislation also amends the Fair Work Act to enable an employee to take compassionate leave if they, or their spouse or de facto partner, has a miscarriage. This measure will reduce discrimination against pregnancy and overall enhance women’s economic security. The legislation is also complemented by amendments to the Fair Work Regulations which implement recommendation 31 of the Respect@Work Report.
“Every Australian is entitled to feel safe at work, so this legislation is just one of the ways we are taking action to build a safe and respectful culture in Australian workplaces,” the Attorney-General said.
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