By John Salter, BTLawyers HR Consultant

In a move which has the potential to impact on all employers and their work sites, a national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces has been announced by the sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins. It is being strongly supported by the Federal Government which is providing significant public funding to assist in its carriage.

Jenkins has indicated that the global conversation about sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement has “exposed the true prevalence of the problem” and the harm it causes to individuals, workplaces and society.

The Human Rights Commission inquiry which will be conducted over the next 12 months will involve an in-depth examination of the prevalence sexual harassment in the workplace, nation-wide consultation and extensive research. It will follow release of the Commission’s fourth survey of workplace sexual harassment in Australia, the results of which are to be released in August with early data indicating that it is increasing.

Whilst the inquiry will no doubt receive information on individual cases of harassment, it will not have the power to activate any prosecutions. Its role is primarily focused on recommending future preventative solutions to the problem.

If clients want further information, want to make a submission to the inquiry, or have any doubts about whether or not their workplace is at risk of exposure or criticism to this type of behaviour please contact BTLawyers’ HR consultant, John Salter.