Extended timeframe for raising sexual harassment claims
Amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 means that from 13 June 2023, employees will have 12 months to raise a personal grievance related to sexual harassment. Employers should be aware of changes that will be required for all new employment agreements.
The new law extends the timeframe for employees to raise a personal grievance with their employer for sexual harassment claims from 90 days to 12 months. The timeframe commences from the date on which the action alleged to amount to a personal grievance occurred or the date the employee became aware of the action, whichever is later.
The new law will not allow for any retrospective/backdated sexual harassment personal grievance claims. The extended timeframe will only apply to cases where the sexual harassment occurred or came to the employee’s attention on or after 13 June 2023. The previous 90-day period will continue to apply to any sexual harassment that occurred before the new law came into force.
What steps are employers required to take?
Employment agreements entered into on or after 13 June 2023 will need to reflect the new law. It is a legal requirement for employment agreements to contain information on how to resolve employment disputes, as well currently including a specific reference to the 90-day time limit period for raising personal grievances. Employers will now need to refer to the extended 12-month timeframe for sexual harassment claims for all new employment agreements finalised on or after 13 June 2023. Failure to do so may result in the employer being liable for a penalty, and could provide a defence to an employee if they failed to raise a personal grievance claim within the new 12-month period.
We recommend that employment agreement templates are updated accordingly.
Employment agreements are not required to be updated for current employees (employed prior to 13 June 2023).
Employers should carefully review company policies that refer to time periods for raising personal grievance claims, and update these to reflect the new 12-month period for sexual harassment claims.
How can we help?
Please let us know if you would like any assistance in updating your employment agreement templates and policies to reflect this change. It may also be a good opportunity for employers to also undertake a more general review of their employment documentation to ensure compliance and best practice.