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Guest Post: Are You Ready for the New Respect@Work Rules?

Guest Post: Are You Ready for the New Respect@Work Rules?

This is a guest post provided by employee expert Natasha Hawker and was originally published here. Natasha is author of ‘From Hire to Fire’, and co-founder of Employee Matters, an outsourced HR & Recruitment provider.

From 6 March, 2023, The Fair Work Act will prohibit sexual harassment in connection with work, which includes the workplace. You might be thinking: “Isn’t this already prohibited? It is in our business …” and so maybe nothing much has to change?

But the changes in the Fair Work Act and the implementation of all fifty five Respect@Work report recommendations mean that a lot will change. While many organisations have policies specifically forbidding sexual harassment and have processes for dealing with complaints, under the new rules, that is not enough.

From 6 March, a person or company will also be liable for sexual harassment committed by an employee or agent in connection with work, unless they can prove that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment.

Simply dealing with an issue when it arises is no longer enough.

What is the new Respect@Work framework?

There is now a new framework for managing sexual harassment in the workplace and while the size and resources of your business will determine what should reasonably be implemented, the new framework means that everyone will need to be much more proactive in dealing with Respect@Work. Not having this framework in place from March leaves businesses at a high risk of falling afoul of the new rules.

The seven elements of the Respect@Work framework

With seven elements – four preventative and three around response – we can see the shift in thinking.  

Consider the following actions in relation to each of the elements that make up the new Respect@Work framework.


  • Lead yourself – leaders are accountable for their own actions
  • Lead your people – leaders are accountable for those they lead and influence
  • Lead your organisation – leaders are accountable for shaping culture
  • What we say
  • How we act
  • What we prioritise
  • What we measure

Risk Assessment & Transparency 

  • The likelihood of sexual harassment occurring, and 
  • The actions to eliminate or minimise that risk


  • Understand workplace culture
  • Influence workplace culture
  • Act on and understand Gender inequality
  • Consider diversity and inclusion in the workplace
  • Your policy and the effect on workplace culture
  • Human resource practices
  • Consultation protocols


  • Consider a person-centred (not systems-centred) approach to workplace sexual harassment
  • Listening to, empowering and supporting people who are impacted by sexual harassment
  • Provide multiple reporting avenues
  • Provide multiple resolution pathways


  • Flexible reporting avenues for victims – provide diverse options in organisational response and prioritise early intervention
  • Timely response to reports 
  • Proportionate and consistent outcomes or consequences applied


  • Creating a cyclical and continuous process rather than a one-off exercise
  • Identifying what data to measure
  • Communicating insights
  • Operationalising actions plans and re-measuring

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ELMO Software. The article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal, tax, or other professional advice. The reader should always seek professional advice before taking any action based on the information provided in this article. ELMO Software makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the article and information contained therein.

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