Respect@Work Nobbled

  • 9 September 2021

The Federal Government succeeded in passing their Respect@Work Bill which legislates for about five and a half of the 55 recommendations in the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s landmark inquiry into sexual harassment at work.  The ACTU pressed for amendments to the Bill for the full implementation of the Respect at Work report. Unions also pushed for at least 10 days family and domestic violence leave to be included.  The Bill passed with one government amendment made by agreement, the effect of which is to delay the commencement of the new Stop Sexual Harassment Order process in the Fair Work Act for 2 months, to allow time for training and operational updates to occur within the Fair Work Commission. The Bill implements some recommendations of Respect@Work as committed to by the government in their ‘Roadmap to Respect’ response. The government claims the Bill implements Respect@Work Report Recommendations 16, 20, 21, 22, 29, and 30. However, it only implements Recommendation 16 partially.

The Bill fails to implement a number of key recommendations from Respect@Work.

A briefing note has been distributed on those recommendations passed and those rejected by the Government. While Unions didn’t achieve the full implementation of Respect@Work, our campaigning and lobbying did:

  • Secure the support of all of the Crossbench in the Senate and House Of Reps, with the exception of One Nation,  
  • Added to the broader national outcry and campaign pressure to get the Bill passed in the first place. Without this the Morrison Government would have continued to ignore Respect@Work.
  • Put the Government’s failure to make work and home safer for women back in the national spotlight.