Employers have been advised to promote a zero tolerance policy to sexual harassment during the festive party season.
The warning comes from South Australia’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Doctor Niki Vincent, who says employers need to remain vigilant.
Research shows that two in five women have been sexually harassed in the workplace, and those aged 18 to 29 are most at risk
“For many young women starting out in a career, this kind of harassment is extremely stressful and can have an impact on the pursuit of their chosen career paths,” Dr Vincent said.
“Christmas parties are notorious for inappropriate behaviour, but that doesn’t make it okay.
“I want to remind employers that sexual harassment is unlawful and very much an occupational health and safety issue.
“This means they must take responsibility for preventing these kinds of unwelcome behaviours and provide appropriate processes for reviewing incidents if there are complaints.”
Sexual harassment can be costly
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Employer Advisors, said sexual harassment complaints can cost a business a lot of money in compensation payouts if not handled correctly.
“The best thing to do is prevent this sort of behaviour in the first place, and that means having good policies in place, and making sure staff are trained and made aware of their legal responsibilities,” he said.
“Unfortunately, many businesses come unstuck when a complaint is made, because they have no idea how to correctly manage the situation.
If you receive a complaint of sexual harassment from one of your staff, the best thing to do is seek urgent expert advice to make sure the matter is handled properly, the process is fair, and your business is protected.”
If you need assistance managing a complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination, we can help.
Please call Employer Advisors today on 1300 853 837.
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