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Adrienne Scott | 27 June 2023

Time to update your employment agreements

Changes to the timeframe for raising a PG for sexual harassment

The Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievance for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Act recently received Royal Assent and came into effect on 13 June 2023.

What has changed?

The timeframe for employees raising a personal grievance related to sexual harassment will be extended from 90 days to 12 months (even if the employee’s employment ends during the 12-month period). The new timeframe applies to sexual harassment events that happened, or came to the notice of the employee, on or after 13 June 2023.

This change doesn’t affect the 90-day timeframe that applies when raising other types of personal grievances.

Why is this change made?

Speaking up about sexual harassment can be difficult and it is common for victims of sexual harassment to wait a long time before coming forward, if at all. This change aims to improve the personal grievance process for victims of sexual harassment by ensuring they have time to process what has happened and decide on their next steps.

Do I need to update our employment agreements?

Any new employment agreements from 13 June 2023 need to include the new extended timeframe. This means your organisation’s employment agreement templates will need to be updated.

This can be a great opportunity to review your employment agreement templates more widely: Are they up to date? Do they cover what’s important to your organisation? Are they user-friendly? Do they reflect your organisation and its culture?

What else should you consider doing?

  • Review your policies and other documents: Review any policies or documents that relate to sexual harassment or raising a personal grievance to ensure they are up to date.
  • Make sure your leaders understand the change: Talk to your leaders about the change so they are equipped to answer questions and support their people.
  • Communicate the change with your people: Although employers aren’t required to notify their employees about this change, we encourage you to do so. This doesn’t need to be a formal notification - you could mention the change at team meetings or adding a note to an email or newsletter.
  • Set clear expectations about appropriate behaviour: prevention is key, so make it clear that sexual harassment has no place in your organisation and address any behaviour you see that falls short of your expectations.
  • Create a culture where people feel comfortable speaking up: it’s always best to hear about and address issues early - before they escalate. If employers only hear about an issue 12 months after it happened, this may mean that any necessary investigation is challenging (for example, if people don’t remember events clearly, or critical people have left the organisation).

Please reach out to the team at Humankind to talk more about this change and how you can best implement it.

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