Law Council seeks changes to Respect at Work Bill

The Law Council of Australia has called for amendments to the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021.

While the Law Council has reiterated that the Bill is a positive step forward in realising the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work report, President Dr Jacoba Brasch QC said that amendments were necessary for the Bill to achieve its stated objectives.

These included the removal of the additional “seriously demeaning nature” threshold in the definition of ‘sex-based harassment’, addressing sex-based harassment in the proposed amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), adopting a straight-forward prohibition of sexual harassment, and ensuring that the expansion of compassionate leave entitlements did not exclude some parents affected by miscarriage.

Dr Brasch acknowledged the publication of the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee’s report on the Bill, and said that, while the committee members were divided in their response, it was encouraging to see the majority gave careful consideration to the views of experts who participated in the inquiry, including those of the Law Council.

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