Whether you’re an employer or employee, it is essential to understand the discrimination and harassment laws that are in force in Australia. These regulations provide employees with vital protections from workplace bullying and abuse – but do employers have a handle on them?
Anxiety and confusion can be expected when navigating this complex legal landscape. To help break down exactly what these regulations mean for those running businesses or working within them, we’ve put together this insightful blog post – so let’s explore how everyone can ensure they remain compliant!
What Are The Discrimination And Harassment Laws In Australia, And What Do They Mean For Employees?
In Australia, the primary laws governing discrimination and harassment in the workplace are the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, and the Age Discrimination Act 2004. These laws protect employees from discrimination and harassment based on sex, race, disability, and age.
In 2021, the Australian government introduced the Respect@Work bill, which aims to strengthen and modernize the country’s workplace discrimination and harassment laws. Some of the key provisions of the bill include the following:
- An expanded definition of “sexual harassment”: The bill broadens the definition of sexual harassment to include any behavior that a reasonable person would expect to be offensive, humiliating, or intimidating, regardless of the harasser’s intention.
- A positive duty on employers to prevent harassment: The bill places a positive duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment from occurring in the workplace rather than simply responding to complaints after the fact.
- Increased penalties for non-compliance: The bill increases the penalties for non-compliance with the law, including fines and potential criminal charges in serious cases.
These changes mean that employers will have to take a more proactive approach to prevent and address discrimination and harassment in the workplace and may face significant consequences if they fail to do so.
How Have These Laws Been Designed To Protect Employee Rights, And What Can Employees Do If They Experience Discrimination Or Harassment At Work?
The discrimination and harassment laws in Australia have been designed to protect employee rights by prohibiting employers from engaging in discriminatory or harassing behavior and providing employees with legal recourse if they experience such behavior in the workplace.
If an employee experiences discrimination or harassment at work, they can take the following steps:
- Speak To Their Employer
Employees can speak to their employer or a manager to raise their concerns and ask for the behavior to stop. It is recommended that this conversation be documented in writing and kept for future reference.
- File A Complaint
If the behavior continues, the employee can file a complaint with their employer’s HR department or the relevant state or federal anti-discrimination agency.
- Seek Legal Advice
Employees may wish to seek legal advice from a qualified employment lawyer to determine their legal rights and options.
- Lodge A Claim
If the employee’s complaint still needs to be resolved through external processes, they may be able to lodge a claim with the relevant tribunal or court.
- Join A Union
Employees who are members of a union can seek support and guidance from their union representatives, who may be able to provide legal representation and advocacy on their behalf.
Employees must keep records of any incidents of discrimination or harassment, including the date, time, location, and details of the behavior, as well as any witnesses or evidence that may support their complaint.
For more information regarding employment laws, visit Global People Strategist.