VEOHRC sexual harassment guideline for employers
Businesses in Victoria have a ‘positive duty’ to combine both prevention and response measures in their approach to managing sexual harassment.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has released a new edition of their Guideline: Preventing and responding to workplace sexual harassment, which provides practical, easy-to-implement advice for employers to help them comply with their legal obligation to keep every employee safe from sexual harassment.
The guideline includes minimum standards to guide employers’ policies and practices. Together, these standards become a framework for preventing and responding to sexual harassment – a good understanding of sexual harassment and the law, an effective prevention plan, a respectful culture, risk management measures, effective reporting processes, and a strategy to monitor the organisation’s progress.
The guideline also includes a step-by-step guide for dealing with sexual harassment complaints, a risk matrix tool, and a gender equality framework to help employers take action on the underlying issues that drive sexual harassment.
As the authoritative and comprehensive resource on Victoria’s positive duty for employers and workplace sexual harassment, this guideline may be considered in judicial proceedings when deciding whether employers have complied with the law.
Support and response tool
Also available is an innovative online Sexual harassment support and response tool. This free and confidential interactive chat tool guides employers, victim-survivors and bystanders through information about sexual harassment and their rights and responsibilities, if they encounter sexual harassment at work.
Minimum standards for employers
VEOHRC has identified six minimum standards that Victorian employers must meet to comply with their positive duty to eliminate sexual harassment. These include steps to prevent sexual harassment, as well as appropriately responding to sexual harassment when it does occur.
These standards are:
- Standard 1: Knowledge Employers understand their obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act and have up-to-date knowledge about workplace sexual harassment.
- Standard 2: Prevention plan Sexual harassment is prevented through the development and implementation of an effective sexual harassment prevention plan.
- Standard 3: Organisational capability Leaders drive a culture of respect by building organisational capability.
- Standard 4: Risk management Employers have built a culture of safety and address risk regularly.
- Standard 5: Reporting and response Sexual harassment is addressed consistently and confidentially to hold harassers to account, and responses put the victim-survivor at the centre.
- Standard 6: Monitoring and evaluation Outcomes and strategies are regularly reviewed, evaluated and improved.
WorkSafe guide for employers on sexual harassment
Work-related gendered violence, including sexual harassment, is a serious occupational health and safety issue. The WorkSafe guide is intended to help employers prevent and respond to work-related gendered violence.
Sexual harassment is a common and known cause of physical and mental injury. Where there is a risk of work-related sexual harassment causing physical or mental injury, employers have an obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to control that risk. This obligation is in addition to the obligation of employers under the Equal Opportunity Act.
Those with management and control of a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the workplace is safe and without risks to health.
You can download a copy of the guide from WorkSafe’s website.
Source: WorkSafe Victoria