Summary publication

Most small businesses and small business people would like to think that sexual harassment is not something that could happen in their workplace.  Research carried out by the Commission found that sexual harassment in workplaces is quite common and 1 in 5 people have experienced workplace sexual harassment in the last five years. Sexual harassment can occur across a broad range of occupations, workplaces and industries. 

The effects of sexual harassment are costly not only to the individual employees who experience it and the bystanders who witness or later hear about it, but also to the businesses in which it occurs.  Consequences such as reduced morale, absenteeism, injury to reputation and the loss of shareholder confidence show that sexual harassment is an issue that employers cannot afford to ignore.  

Under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), businesses, including small businesses, can be held legally responsible for sexual harassment unless they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent the harassment. An important part of ensuring compliance with the Sex Discrimination Act is regularly reviewing and (where appropriate) revising sexual harassment policies, procedures and training programs to ensure they remain current.