Making updates following the New Personal Grievance Window for Sexual Harassment Claims
The Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievances for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Bill has recently passed its third reading in Parliament last week with overwhelming support, with Royal Assent typically given within seven days. As such, it is important for employers to familiarise themselves with the upcoming amendments and take proactive measures to adapt to these changes.
The Bill recognises that victims of sexual harassment often require significant time to process their experiences and feel comfortable enough to report them. Currently, employees have a narrow 90-day window to raise a personal grievance, irrespective of the nature of the incident. Under the new legislation, employees will be granted an extended timeframe of 12 months to file a personal grievance if it relates to sexual harassment within the workplace.
In addition to understanding this extended timeframe and how employers need to respond to future claims, employers must ensure that their employment agreements templates, policies and procedures are all updated to reflect these changes When considering policy updates, as it relates to sexual harassment, for further information, we suggest reviewing the recommendations outlined in the following article written by K3 Consulting’s Katrina Kemp: https://www.k3.co.nz/insights/what-the-new-sexual-harassment-legislation-means-for-employers/. Organisations may also consider updating communications and training for employees and leaders.
The newly updated section 65(2)(a)(vi) of the Employment Relations Act 2000 mandates that employment agreements include a clear language explanation outlining the services available for the resolution of employment problems, including a reference to both the standard 90-day window and the new 12-month window for sexual harassment claims.
We recommend preparing updates to your documents and practices in advance, to be ready to roll out as soon as the Bill is assented. This also presents an opportune time to assess the adequacy of your broader workplace policies, and ensuring that you have clear procedures for your people to escalate and respond to questions, concerns and complaints. If you need further support with this, reach out to K3 Legal or K3 Consulting for further support.