Workplace sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can take many forms. It can be overt, covert or subtle. It can be repeated or a one-off incident. Sexual harassment can cause harm to the person it is directed at, as well as anyone who witnesses the behaviour. 

If you’re a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you have a positive duty under the model WHS laws to do all that you reasonably can to eliminate or minimise the risk of sexual harassment at work. This includes sexual harassment between workers, and from other people at the workplace, like customers and clients. 

You should follow the WHS risk management process to manage the risk of sexual harassment, just as you do for any other WHS risks. There are a range of things you must take into account when deciding what control measures to implement. For example:

  • how frequent and severe the exposure is
  • other psychosocial hazards that might increase the risk of harm
  • the physical work environment (e.g. safety and visibility)
  • the design of work and systems of work (e.g. supervision and support), and 
  • implementing training for workers and appropriate workplace policies. 

Safe Work Australia has developed a range of resources on workplace sexual harassment to assist PCBUs prevent sexual harassment occurring in the workplace.



Guidance for small business

Advice for workers

Influencing positive change and accountability: Sexual harassment at work

Watch Safe Work Australia CEO, Michelle Baxter deliver a keynote presentation at Comcare’s national forum on sexual harassment. Michelle discusses how sexual harassment at work has been dealt with in the past and what needs to change, positive duties in the WHS Act to prevent sexual harassment, and the work Safe Work Australia is doing to prevent sexual harassment at work.

Australian Human Rights Commission  

There are also anti-discrimination laws in Australia which prohibit sexual harassment in any workplace. The Australian Human Rights Commission provides resources to help businesses understand and meet their legal obligations under these laws.