Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill 2022
The Law Council welcomes the opportunity to provide this submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee (the Committee) in response to its inquiry into the provisions of the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill 2022 (Cth) (the Bill).
The Law Council made a submission (2021 submission) to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021 (Respect@Work Bill 2021) and participated in a hearing during that committee’s inquiry into the Respect@Work Bill 2021.1
In its 2021 submission and a later submission (2022 submission) to the Attorney-General’s Department regarding its Consultation Paper: Respect@Work— Options to progress further legislative recommendations (AGD Consultation Paper), 2 the Law Council submitted that further amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (SDA) are required to give effect in full to the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in its Respect@Work Report. 3 Importantly, these would:
• introduce a positive duty on all employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual and sex-based harassment, and victimisation as far as possible;
• provide the AHRC with a broad inquiry function to inquire into systemic unlawful discrimination, including systemic sexual harassment; and
• amend the AHRC President’s discretion under s 46PH of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (AHRC Act) to terminate a complaint on the grounds of time so that this discretion does not arise until it has been 24 months since the alleged unlawful discrimination took place.4
1 Law Council of Australia, submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021, 16 July 2021 https://lawcouncil.au/publicassets/509a87ab06f0-eb11-943f-005056be13b5/4046%20- %20Sex%20Discrimination%20and%20Fair%20Work%20%20Respect%20at%20Work%20%20Amendment %20Bill%202021.pdf.
2 Law Council of Australia, ‘Consultation Paper: Respect@Work – Options to progress further legislative recommendations’ (23 March 2022), https://lawcouncil.au/publicassets/056e0327-5cae-ec11-944c005056be13b5/4193%20-%20Respect%20Work%20Further%20Legislative%20Recommendations.pdf.
3 Australian Human Rights Commission, Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report (2020) (5 March 2020),(Respect@Work) available online: Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report (2020) | Australian Human Rights Commission.
4 See also: Law Council of Australia, Call to Parties 2022 38.