Regulator guidance on sexual harassment in the workplace

On the one year anniversary of the #metoo movement, WorkSafe has issued guidance for workers and employers on preventing and responding to sexual harassment at work.  With this latest guidance WorkSafe is sending a clear message: sexual harassment should be treated like any other health and safety risk.

Events over the last year have demonstrated that bullying and harassment (including sexual harassment) is a common and serious issue for workplaces in New Zealand.  However, as these types of issues have not traditionally been a focus of health and safety law, many employers have been uncertain about their obligations in this area.  WorkSafe’s guidance clears up any uncertainty – sexual harassment is a health and safety issue, and as such, employers must take reasonably practicable steps to prevent it.

WorkSafe’s sexual harassment ‘toolbox’ includes advice for both workers and businesses, as well as a template sexual harassment policy, a template form for reporting sexual harassment and example scenarios to assist in recognising the different forms of sexual harassment.

The guidance is consistent with WorkSafe’s expanding focus into areas which may not be traditionally thought of as ‘health and safety’.  Work-related stress, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying all feature in WorkSafe’s 10 year plan for improving work-related health.

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