Respect@Work Legislation Changes

This month the government passed the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021, bringing into law some of the recommendations from the Respect@Work report. The report found that sexual harassment is pervasive and prevalent in Australian workplaces and that current systems are insufficient to deal with it.

What are the changes?

Human Rights Commission Act: The time frame to lodge a claim for sex discrimination has been extended from 6 to 24 months.

Fair Work Act Change – Definitions: A definition or note has been added to, Miscarriage, Sexually Harass, Sexually Harassed at Work, and Criteria for Harshness (re Sexual Harassment).

Fair Work Act Change – Stop Sexual Harassment Order: This change acknowledges sexual harassment as a workplace health and safety issue, like bullying, allowing employees to apply for an “order to stop sexual harassment” through the Fair Work Commission.

Fair Work Act Change – Compassionate Leave: Employees can now access two days of Compassionate Leave if they or their spouse/de facto partner experiences a miscarriage. The leave is paid for permanent employees and unpaid for causals.

Fair Work Act Change – Criteria for Harshness: This section denotes what justifies a valid reason for dismissal which now includes, the person sexually harasses another, and the person does so in connection with their employment.

Sex Discrimination Act Change: The coverage of the Sex Discrimination Act has expanded to include public servants and members of government. Additionally, the definition of harassment on the grounds of sex has been added. A section has also been added to stating it is unlawful to victimize another person because they have or intend to make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

To review all the changes click here.

If you would like to discuss this, or any other HR issue, please call (08) 9316 9896, or email

If you have queries about anything above and want advice personalised to your business, contact us on (08) 9316 9896, or email

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Written by Danielle McNamee


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Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.