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Respect at Work 


Understanding the New ‘Respect at Work’ Laws and Legislation in Australia and Its Positive Duty Impacts on Director Roles

Respect at Work and Inclusive Workplaces  – Program for Board of Directors 

The concept of “Respect at Work” and its associated laws and legislation in Australia, combined with the role of a Board of Directors, aligns closely with the broader idea of psychological safety at work. Here’s a breakdown of how they go hand in hand:

Definition and Importance of Psychological Safety:  Psychological safety refers to an individual’s perception of the consequences of taking an interpersonal risk. In a psychologically safe work environment, individuals feel safe to take risks, ask questions, raise concerns, or admit mistakes without fear of punishment or humiliation.

‘Respect at Work’ Laws and Legislation:  Such laws and regulations are designed to create workplaces where employees are treated with respect and dignity, free from bullying, harassment, discrimination, and other harmful behaviors.  These laws not only serve to penalize inappropriate behavior but also promote positive workplace cultures where everyone feels valued and secure.

Positive Duty Impacts on Director Roles:  Directors and board members have a positive duty to ensure that their organizations adhere to these regulations, not merely as a legal obligation but as a moral and ethical duty. This proactive duty means boards must implement effective policies, training, and interventions to foster respectful work environments.  Directors can be seen as setting the tone for organizational culture. If they prioritize respect and psychological safety, it cascades down through the organization.

Alignment with Psychological Safety:  Both the “Respect at Work” legislation and the idea of psychological safety emphasize creating an environment where individuals can thrive without fear.  For employees to feel psychologically safe, they must first feel respected and protected from harmful behaviors. Thus, by ensuring compliance with “Respect at Work” laws, directors are also paving the way for a psychologically safe environment.

Benefits:  Organizations that foster psychological safety are more likely to experience higher levels of employee engagement, satisfaction, creativity, and productivity.  They are also better positioned to retain talent, navigate challenges, and innovate.  Compliance with “Respect at Work” laws also reduces the risk of legal repercussions and reputational damage.

Continuous Improvement:  Psychological safety isn’t a one-time achievement but a continuous journey. As the workplace evolves, challenges to psychological safety may change or evolve. Thus, the role of the Board in understanding and implementing the “Respect at Work” laws also involves ongoing assessments, trainings, and interventions to ensure the sustained psychological well-being of employees.

Why our program is different?


  • Objective: To brief the Board of Directors on the nuances of the ‘Respect at Work’ laws and its implications for their roles.
  • Importance: The new legislative changes emphasize proactive actions, ensuring workplaces are free from sexual harassment and other related discriminations.
  1. Background:
  • Australia’s ‘Respect at Work’ report: A response to the increasing cases of workplace sexual harassment.
  • National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces led to comprehensive recommendations, of which several have been legislated.
  1. Key Aspects of the ‘Respect at Work’ Legislation:
  • Proactive Duty: Employers, including company boards, must proactively prevent sexual harassment.
  • Clarification: Clearer definitions of what constitutes sexual harassment.
  • Extended Liability: Personal liability for directors and other officers if the organization doesn’t comply.
  • Complaint Handling: Introduction of a complaints system that’s efficient, timely, and victim-centric.
  • Transparency Requirements: Organizations must publicly report on sexual harassment prevention measures.
  1. Positive Duty Impacts on Director Roles:
  • Proactive Responsibility: No longer enough to react; directors must ensure active measures are in place.
  • Due Diligence: Ensure the company’s processes, training, and culture align with legislative requirements.
  • Risk Management: Assess and manage the risk of sexual harassment within the organization.
  • Accountability: Directors can be held personally liable for non-compliance.
  • Stakeholder Communication: Engage with shareholders, employees, and the public on the company’s efforts and strategies to prevent workplace harassment.
  1. Recommendations for Directors:
  • Training & Development: Regular workshops to understand sexual harassment nuances and the new legislative environment.
  • Review Current Policies: Ensure they are compliant with the new laws.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Open dialogue with employees about their concerns and recommendations.
  • Transparency: Adopt and promote a transparent reporting and handling system for any complaints.
  • Culture Audit: Periodically evaluate the organization’s culture to ensure it fosters a safe, respectful environment.
  1. Conclusion & Way Forward:
  • The ‘Respect at Work’ laws demand a paradigm shift in how directors approach workplace culture and harassment.
  • Directors play a crucial role in setting the tone for the organization.
  • By understanding and proactively addressing the demands of the new legislation, directors can foster a more inclusive, respectful, and legally compliant workplace.
  1. Q&A Session:
  • An opportunity for the Board of Directors to clarify doubts, share insights, and discuss strategies.

How to measure Respect at Work safety?

This program aims to ensure the Board of Directors is fully informed and prepared to undertake their positive duties under the new ‘Respect at Work’ laws in Australia. Proactive involvement at this level will not only ensure compliance but also promote a healthier, respectful workplace culture.

We help y0u to create respect and psychological safety at work

Now that you know what it is, why it matters, and how to measure it—how do you transform your team environment and create psychological safety at work?

Let us create for you strategies to create psychological safety at work.

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