Harrassment policy


The CEPU is committed to ensuring that the working environment is free from sexual harassment and other forms of harassment. The CEPU believes that all officers, employees and members have a right to be treated with dignity, courtesy and respect in the workplace. 

Sexual harassment and other forms of harassment will not be tolerated under any circumstances. All complaints will be treated in a fair and confidential manner. Any person making a complaint will be protected from victimisation. 

The following policy adopted by Divisional Executive sets out the legal definition of sexual harassment, the responsibilities of officers, employees and members and identifies other forms of harassment. The procedures to be followed in the event of a harassment complaint are set out in the document entitled, CEPU Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Harassment Complaint Procedures. 

All officers, employees and members of the CEPU are required to comply with and support the sexual harassment and other forms of harassment policy. 

Breaches of the policy may result in disciplinary action and disciplinary action may be taken against anyone who victimises a person who has complained of harassment. 

Disciplinary action may include an apology, counselling, a warning, demotion, dismissal or any other penalty which is consistent within the rules of the CEPU. 

The objectives are:
a) To take all reasonable steps, including the provision of training where appropriate, to ensure that all officers, employees and members know their rights and responsibilities in relation to sexual harassment and other forms of harassment.
b) To provide an effective procedure for handling complaints based on the principles of natural justice.
c) To ensure that the rights of the complaint/and respondent (alleged harasser) are respected at all times.
d) To promote appropriate standards of conduct at all times. 

The aim of the policy is to create a working environment which is free from discrimination sexual harassment or any other form of harassment and where all officials, employees and members of the CEPU are treated with dignity, courtesy and respect.

What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is any unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited behaviour of a sexual nature which makes a person feel humiliated, intimidated or offended and where it is reasonable in the circumstances that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can take many different forms and may include physical contact, verbal comments, jokes, propositions, the display of offensive material or other behaviour which creates a sexually hostile working environment. (The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Sexual Harassment Code of Practice, Commonwealth of Australia 1996).
Examples of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment may include: 

  • uninvited touching;
  • uninvited kisses or embraces;
  • smutty jokes or comments;
  • making promises or threats in return for sexual favours;
  • displays of sexually graphic material including posters, pinups, cartoons, graffiti or messages left on notice boards, desks or common areas;
  • repeated invited to go out after prior refusal;
  • “flashing” or sexual gestures;
  • sex-based insults, taunts, teasing or name-calling;
  • staring or leering at a person or at parts of their body;
  • unwelcome physical contact such as massaging a person without invitation or deliberately brushing up against them;
  • touching or fiddling with a person’s clothing;
  • requests for sex;
  • sexually explicit conversation;
  • persistent questions or insinuations about a person’s private life;
  • offensive phone calls or letters;
  • stalking;
  • offensive e-mail messages or computer screen savers.
  • discuss the problem with the alleged harasser in an attempt to resolve the matter in a constructive way; and/or
  • choose to resolve the complaint through the Union’s endorsed procedures entitled, Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Harassment Complaint Procedures; and/or
  • choose to pursue the complaint under the provisions of the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984 or relevant State/Territory legislation through lodging a complaint with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission or appropriate State body; and/or
  • choose to pursue the complaint through another appropriate representative body such as their union.

Any person wishing to make a complaint through the CEPU Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Harassment Complaint Procedures should contact the relevant Branch Secretary (or nominee) or the Divisional Secretary (or nominee). 

What sexual harassment is not 

 Behaviour which is welcomed, consensual or reciprocated is not sexual harassment. Interactions based on mutual attraction, friendship and respect do not constitute sexual harassment. 

Sexual harassment is against the law 

 Sexual harassment in employment is prohibited in the following circumstances:
i. recruitment and selection – for example, during job interviews;
ii. the course of employment – for example, at the workplace, during working hours, at work-related activities such as meetings, training courses, conferences, field trips, work functions and office Christmas parties;
iii. termination of employment – for example, where an employee is dismissed for objecting to sexual harassment or resigns because of intolerable sexual harassment;
iv. any other circumstance that could arise in the context of the relationships outlined below – for example, sexual harassment of an employee by a fellow employee, regardless of when or where it occurs. 

Under the legislation employers are required to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment. 

Sexual harassment is prohibited by the Federal Sex Discrimination Act, 1984 and anti-discrimination laws in all States and Territories (see Attachment 1).

Responsibilities of the Union, officials, employees and members
 (a) A union employee must not sexually harass:
i. a co-worker;
ii. a prospective co-worker;
iii. a workplace participant carrying out duties in the same workplace as the union employee;
iv. a union member;
v. a person seeking to become a union member. 

(b) A union member must not sexually harass:
i. a fellow union member;
ii. a person seeking to become a member. 

(c) A union employee or member must not engage in any act of victimisation. 

(d) A union employee or member must not cause, instruct, induce, aid or permit another person to commit an act of sexual harassment. 

(e) Unions are vicariously liable for acts of sexual harassment committed by employees or agents in connection with their duties unless “all reasonable steps” were taken to prevent sexual harassment occurring. 

(f) Agents of the union can include shop stewards and other workplace delegates. 

(g) Individual persons are liable for their own acts of sexual harassment and victimisation. As well spreading gossip and rumours may expose individuals to defamation. 

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Sexual Harassment Code of Practice specifies:

Sex discrimination and harassment

 Sex discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably than someone else in the same or similar circumstances on the grounds of sex, marital status or pregnancy. For example, separate pay scales for men and women.

Sex discrimination also occurs in employment policies and practices which appear to be neutral but which actually adversely affect a higher proportion of one sex or marital status than the other. For example, a rule that all police officers must be six feet tall.

Sex based harassment is harassment which is directed at someone because of their sex. It is usually based on some form of constant derogatory taunts and references about a person’s gender. 

It is unlawful to discriminate or harass someone on the basis of sex. 

Other forms of harassment  

Examples include making hurtful jokes about a person’s age, imitating their accent or mannerisms, racist comments or graffiti, using derogatory terms for disabilities. 

Bullying is also a form of harassment and can be brought within anti-discrimination and criminal codes. When a person’s health or safety is at risk, bullying is a breach of occupational health and safety laws. 

Examples include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, taunts or teasing, and degrading or embarrassing practical jokes. 

CEPU policy is that other forms of harassment or bullying are not acceptable and will not be tolerated. 

Other types of behaviour which offends, humiliates or intimidates on the basis of for example, age, family responsibilities, race, disability, sexual preference, transgender can be brought within discrimination provisions in both State and Federal legislation.

Complaint procedures
Procedures for dealing with sexual harassment and other harassment complaints are set out in a document entitled, CEPU’s Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Harassment Complaint Procedures. The procedures enable any person who makes a complaint of sexual harassment or harassment to either:
Policy review
The policy will be widely promoted and updated as required. Both the policy and the complaint procedures will be subject to review.
Attachment 1
 Federal, State and Territory Anti-Discrimination Legislation
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Federal)
Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Federal)
Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Federal)
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Federal)
Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Federal)
Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW)
Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA)
Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA)
Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT)
Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (QLD)
Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT)
Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (TAS)
Equal Opportunity Act 1995 (VIC)


Note: Employers are required to comply with both the Federal legislation and relevant State or Territory legislation.
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