From 13 June 2023, employees will have 12 months to raise a personal grievance related to sexual harassment. The 12-month timeframe runs from the date on which the action alleged to amount to a personal grievance occurred or the date the employee become aware of the action, whichever is later. The extended timeframe will only apply to cases where the sexual harassment occurred or came to the employee’s attention on or after 13 June 2023.
“Sexual harassment” is defined in the Employment Relations Act 2000 and includes direct or indirect requests for sexual activity containing implied or overt promises of preferential treatment, threats of detrimental treatment in employment or threats about the present or future employment status of that employee.
If an employee is sexually harassed by a person other than the employer (including another employee, a customer, client, or contractor), the employee may make a complaint to their employer. The employer must inquire into the facts and take whatever steps are practicable to prevent any repetition of that behaviour. If the employer fails to take all practicable steps, the employee is deemed to have a personal grievance for having been sexually harassed as if the behaviour were that of the employee.
Accordingly, it is crucial that all complaints of sexual harassment are taken very seriously and acted upon with haste.
Employers are not required to amend employment agreements for current employees however to comply with good faith requirements, it is recommended that all current employees are notified of the change in writing.
Any employment agreements entered into from 13 June 2023 must be updated to reflect the extended timeframe of 12-months for raising a personal grievance related to sexual harassment. This is a legal requirement. Failure to do so may give rise to a penalty (up to $20,000 in the case of a company or other corporation) and provide employees with a defence if they fail to raise a personal grievance for sexual harassment within the extended timeframe.
The usual 90-day timeframe continues to apply to all other personal grievances.
If you would like further advice or require assistance with updating employment agreement templates, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team at Harmans Lawyers.
The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.