Factbox: Australia vows to tackle sexual harassment at work after backlash

·1 min read

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday he would remove exemptions for judges and politicians from sexual harassment laws, as his government tries to contain a backlash over allegations of sexual misconduct in politics.

The change is part of a broad overhaul of the way Australia handles gender-related workplace complaints, designed to empower complainants and force bosses to be proactive in stamping out discrimination.

It was among 55 recommendations in a report by the country's Sex Discrimination Commissioner early last year, all of which Morrison said he would now act on.

Here are some of the report's key recommendations:

* Changing the definition of "workplace participant" and "workplace" in gender discrimination law to mean all scenarios "including paid and unpaid workers, and those who are self-employed"; removing the "exemption of state public servants".

* Conduct a survey every four years to monitor rates and trends in sexual harassment complaints. Improve data-sharing between agencies which handle complaints.

* Introduce education about gender discrimination for young working people, school students, university employees, people working for complaints handling organisations, members of the judiciary and company directors.

* A "positive duty" on all employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate gender discrimination

* Statute of limitations between alleged sex discrimination incident to actionable complaint raised to two years, from six months.

* Wording of workplace laws updated so that "sexual harassment" is prohibited and can be grounds for dismissal.

(Reporting by Renju Jose and Byron Kaye; Editing by Michael Perry)