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HOT OFF THE PRESS – Big change in legislation

There is an important development in employment law occurred on 13 June 2023.  It extends the time frame to allow a claim of sexual harassment in the workplace from the standard 90 days to 12 months.

The Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievance for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Bill allows a person who considers they have been subjected to sexual harassment within a workplace to bring a claim within 12 months.  This is a long awaited change and recognises that it may take time for a person subjected to sexual harassment to process what has occurred and to come forward.  Previously any person had to submit a personal grievance based on sexual harassment within the period of 90 days just like any other personal grievance.   The extension of time to 12 months is now consistent with the alternative process of bringing an action of sexual harassment under the Human Rights Act (which is also 12 months).

It is important to note, however, that this new time frame will only apply to events that have occurred from 13 June.  It will not be retrospective, which means the current 90 day limit will continue to apply to events that have occurred up until this date.

What this means for you now

This change affects the requirement for every employment agreement to have a ‘plain language’ explanation of the services available for the resolution of employment problems.  This plain language explanation  (which generally finds its way at the end of an employment agreement) must also include reference to a period of 90 days in which a personal grievance needs to be raised.  All new employment agreements now need to contain a separate reference to the period of 12 months for raising a personal grievance that is based on a sexual harassment.  Penalties may apply if your employment agreements do not contain this plain language explanation including the new timeframe.

Existing employment agreements do not need to be changed (although the law will still apply), but we recommend that you take this opportunity to review any policy you may have that addresses or focusses on sexual harassment.  We also recommend that you take the pro-active step of informing your employees of this new change.

Our team has updated our individual employment agreement templates and our relevant polices.  If you have your own template that you use, make sure you incorporate the changes into Employment Agreements and any affected policies.

If you have any questions about the new 12-month timeframe to raise a personal grievance for sexual harassment, or you would like us to review your policies please contact us.

You get reassurance that your employment matters are dealt with professionally, so you can go back to doing what you do best.

Help with anything in the employment life cycle from recruitment and employment agreements to disciplinaries and disputes and anything else in between.


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