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Sexual Harassment and Miscarriage Leave Changes

On 10 September 2021, the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Act 2021 (Respect at Work amendments) took effect. The Respect at Work amendments update the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) to:

• address sexual harassment at work
• include miscarriage as a reason to access compassionate leave.

The Respect at Work Act has introduced changes to 3 separate pieces of existing legislation (discussed further below):

• Introduction of stop sexual harassment orders
• Defining sexual harassment
• Clarifying that sexual harassment at work can be a valid reason for dismissal

In addition, miscarriage leave has been introduced for the first time, through an expansion of the entitlement to compassionate leave. Employees can take up to two days of paid compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) if they or their current spouse or de facto partner has a miscarriage.

Employees are also entitled to compassionate leave if they experience a stillbirth or death of a child. Another employee may also be entitled to take compassionate leave if the infant was, or would have been, an immediate family or household member of the employee. You may need to look at updating your Compassionate leave codes/policies, to include these changes.

All the changes are now in effect, except for provisions relating to “stop bullying orders” which commence in November 2021, as explained further below.

For more information on the above, please contact us on 1300 887 458 and speak with one  of our HR Consultants. If you are interested in learning more about our HR services, including HR OutsourcingHR ConsultingHR Advisory Services, contact us at