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How to Strengthen Your Sexual Harassment Policy

Published October 08, 2018 (last updated June 30, 2023) - Ben Fairfax

How to strengthen your sexual harassment policy

Momemtum is growing for a national inquiry into sexual harassment in New Zealand workplaces following reports that that complaints have doubled in the public sector alone.

The results have prompted Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue to call for a national inquiry into harassment in the workplace.

In calling for the inquiry, she urged businesses to be proactive in dealing with sexual harassment.

“Don’t wait for a crisis, act now – and that’s speaking from experience.”

It’s time for business owners to take strong action against sexual harassment in the workplace. Here’s what you can do:

Zero Tolerance

If you haven’t already, formalise a zero tolerance stance on sexual harassment in your relevant policies and procedures. With your position clearly defined, articulate it to employees through every communication method available to your business. Every staff member — both incoming and existing — should be aware of your company’s policy on sexual harassment, and how sexual harassment is defined in your workplace.

Train Your Staff

While your sexual harassment policy can outline the standards of acceptable behaviour and conduct, training will help your employees retain the information. Employees come from a vast range of backgrounds, beliefs, cultures and ages. Training sets out in very clear terms the type of behaviour that is unacceptable in the workplace.

Set up a safe and confidential way for employees to make complaints

Making a claim of sexual harassment can be daunting. For employees who have experienced sexual harassment, making a claim can be a confronting and deeply personal. Often, many victims stay silent out of fear that it will harm their careers or label them as troublemakers. It’s important that staff are aware of the process to make such complaints, and that their information and details will be treated seriously and confidentially.

Investigate all claims

It is up to victim whether they consider a particular incident as a form of sexual harassment. Even if the incident took place out-of-hours, outside your workplace – or even if you don’t find the accusation personally offensive – all claims must be properly investigated.

Sexual harassment is set to take greater prominence in the world of employment relations and it’s important that you have the relevant policies and procedures in place to protect your staff and your business.

Need a hand developing a sexual harassment policy for your business? Speak with one of our Employment Relations Specialists.

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Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,500 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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