Compliance Training for Zero Tolerance Sexual Harassment Laws

What do you need to create a training framework that readies your organisation for the new, tougher laws?

The Australian government has accepted all 55 recommendations put forward in The Human Rights Commissions’ Respect@Work landmark report – which found that one in three people had experienced sexual harassment.

The report is revolutionary in its recommendations, offering a more solid regulatory framework. It’s effectively a game-changer for addressing workplace sexual harassment in Australia.

These recommendations will see some significant changes occurring in workplaces: Notably that parliamentarians and judges will actually be covered by the Sexual Discrimination Act for the first time.

Also, the adoption of these recommendations will see sexual harassment included in the definition of serious misconduct across all workplaces — and therefore a valid reason for dismissal.

However, according to a recent article in the Australian Financial Review, employers believe that the federal government’s recent moves to make sexual harassment a sackable offence, do not go far enough.

The main concern is that reinstatement remains the primary remedy for unfair dismissal, even where the employee, following through an independent investigation, has been found to have engaged in sexual harassment against another employee.

“We urge the government to ensure that employers are adequately empowered to take effective action against perpetrators of sexual harassment without fear of financial and legal consequences, and that our courts and tribunals back employers in taking action to stamp our sexual harassment,” says the acting chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jennifer Lambert.

Calls for Consent Training to be Taught in Schools

Education in this area needs to be taught early on, and helping kids understand what consent means is key for codifying behaviour.

Victoria is on the front foot in this respect. Respectful Relationships education is already a core part of the state’s curriculum. But, the Victoria government has also announced that it will also make consent education mandatory in public schools.

There are petitions being signed across other states to bring in similar curriculum, and it is only a matter of time until this kind of education will roll out nationally.

So, that’s good news for the next generation of workers, but where does that leave the rest of corporate Australia?

Are You Ready for Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training?

Tackling this issue at work now needs to go beyond simply creating a sexual harassment policy.

Organisations need to consider the legal and corporate reputational issues and risk for not taking action. And what does action look like?

As Prime Minister Scott Morrison, said, “accepting the recommendations is an opportunity to change the very narrative that will drive appropriate actions needed right across government and across society.”

We await the budget next month to find out more. As the majority of these recommendations would require significant funding if adopted.

To provide relevant context, the 2020 budget had included a provision for a training package on identifying the drivers and impacts of sexual harassment, including an online platform bringing together relevant materials for employers and workers in a single platform.

But beyond governmental resources, what is the best way to train for this at the employee level within an organisation? And what is the role and responsibility of HR and the L&D team?

We urge the government to ensure that employers are adequately empowered to take effective action against perpetrators of sexual harassment without fear of financial and legal consequences – Jennifer Lambert, Acting Chief Executive, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Our partners, and global leaders in all aspects of eLearning, eLearning Brothers – have worked with many US-based organisations to deliver such training in the US, where sexual harassment training is actually mandatory – including in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine and New York states.

Much of this training is brief – just an hour or so in length. However, our collective insights is, that there are now so many other tools, technologies and creative ways to bring learning to life, that this area really requires planning and collaboration with expert advisors to to help make this type of training resonate in the most engaging way.

For starters, the team at ITC Learning can provide off-the-shelf compliance packages including our Code of Conduct Package which includes Harassment and Sexual Harassment training.

We can also advise, and work with clients to develop more tailored, custom eLearning modules and courses for your organisation. Contact us for a chat at info@itclearning.com.au

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