The discussion playing out around the landmark Respect@Work report, and the Government’s in principle acceptance of the 55 recommendations, is a timely reminder that we need to bring continuous education into our workplaces.
Responses to the Roadmap for Respect
Others are calling on people with leadership positions to take up the mantle of educator, model acceptable behaviour and make sure every employee knows what will not be tolerated – from sexual harassment to intimidation.
Kate Jenkins, Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner who was responsible for delivering the report, welcomed the Government’s response saying; “In this response the Government has committed to taking action in the areas of data and research, primary prevention, legal and regulatory reform, better workplace prevention and response and improved support, advice and advocacy. The Commission welcomes the Government’s focus on clarity, safety, prevention and evidence and is keen to see the investment to support this action in the forthcoming budget.”
What do the changes mean for my business?
The recommendations put forward in the report are all important. However, there are certain points employers should be aware of in understanding how it relates back to their own policies, procedures and – most importantly – culture.
First off, the Fair Work Act is set to be amended considerably.
Changes include allowing employers to summarily dismiss perpetrators of sexual harassment in the workplace and changing the definition of serious misconduct to include sexual harassment.
The Fair Work Commission will be given the function of assessing and enforcing compliance, including the power to undertake assessments of compliance and issue compliance notices. In this context, it will be more important than ever for employers to be on top of their compliance requirements and have transparent and clear mechanisms in place to track policies and training.
The role of boards and corporate governance was another recurring theme. The Australian Institute of Company Directors, and other similar bodies, will be required to develop education and training for board members on good governance in relation to gender equality and sexual harassment. The ASX Corporate Governance Council will also be responsible for introducing sexual harassment indicators for ASX-listed entities to report against.
The implementation of the recommendations will be a timely and complex task. However, the Federal Government has indicated a package of legislative changes will be put before Parliament for its consideration by the end of June 2021.
How to be prepared
Implementing a policy and corresponding training program is a fundamental aspect in ensuring staff understand what behaviours are acceptable in your workplace. Typically, there are two ways to do this – rolling out a generic program to check the compliance box, or with a customised program that reflects your individual workplace culture which serves to educate staff and change behaviours.
Whichever model you select, it is essential that at a minimum, your organisation has accurately monitored and tracked its efforts to deliver a training program. Delivering training online has become one of the most efficient ways to track learner completions and understanding.
Online training has come a long way in recent years. While many providers still insist on providing generic check-box training, more sophisticated compliance training providers will help you customise their off-the-shelf programs to deliver a bespoke course that reflects the individuality of your unique brand, policies and work culture.
This is essential in engaging the learner and achieving greater learner outcomes. Specialist compliance training providers like Safetrac will also ensure that courses accurately reflect the current regulatory framework, maintaining an updated service whenever there is change in the laws surrounding that area.
Safetrac’s new Respect@Work is a customisable course focused on prevention of poor workplace behaviours and encourages positive behaviour change. The creation of this course is a reflection of the new regulatory changes from the respect@work report.
This course will help learners to:
- Identify sexual harassment and gender-based harassment behaviours
- Understand the underlying factors of sexual harassment and gender-based harassment
- Identify workplace culture risk factors
- Recognise individual roles in preventing sexual harassment in the workplace
- Active bystander behavioural guidelines
Safetrac’s Respect@Work course will educate learners that we all have a role in creating an environment that actively discourages and prevents sexual harassment.