What has changed?
- The timeframe for raising a personal grievance claim for sexual harassment has been increased to 12 months from the date the action alleged to amount to a personal grievance occurred or came to the notice of the employee – whichever is later.
What has not changed?
- The definition of sexual harassment, as set out in s108 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 remains unchanged.
- The timeframe for raising personal grievances other than those for sexual harassment remains 90 days from the date the action alleged to amount to a personal grievance occurred or came to the notice of the employee – whichever is later.
- Employers can still consent to the raising of a grievance out of time, and consent can be determined by an employer’s conduct.
- The ordinary remedies for personal grievance claims remain unchanged.
What employers must do:
- All employment agreements entered from 13 June 2023 must reference the extended timeframe of 12 months for raising a personal grievance for sexual harassment. Failing to do so could result in a penalty of up to $20,000 for employers, although it is unlikely that in most circumstances the maximum would be ordered.
- Employers do not need to update existing employees’ employment agreements. We do however recommend that employers advise employees of this change and seek their agreement to amend their agreements.
- Any reference to the 90-day timeframe in a policy should be updated to set out the new 12-month timeframe (set out above).
Other things employers and employees need to know:
- Employees that have experienced workplace sexual harassment, or an incident of workplace sexual harassment has come to their attention on or after 13 June 2023, have 12 months to raise a personal grievance.
- Employees that have experienced workplace sexual harassment, or an incident of workplace sexual harassment has come to their attention before 13 June 2023, have 90 days to raise a personal grievance.
- If an employee was employed before 13 June 2023, it does not matter that their employment agreement only refers to the 90-day timeframe, the extended timeframe is available regardless.
How can we help?
- Reviewing employment documentation and advising on any necessary amendments.
- Assisting with reducing the likelihood of sexual harassment claims arising by reviewing workplace policies and procedures.
- Ensuring adequate processes are in place, so that when allegations of sexual harassment are made, the right steps are taken.
- Guidance on how to lawfully investigate sexual harassment.
At TODD & WALKER Law we have a specialist employment law team that can assist with any employment law queries, including reviewing your agreements to make sure you remain up to date with current legislation changes. Contact the Employment Law team on [email protected] or call 03 441 2743.