Sexual harassment personal grievance timeframe extended to 12 months

Speaking up about a sexual harassment incident can often be challenging and intimidating. There is often a period after the incident before a victim feels comfortable to come forward about their experience.

The Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievance for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Act 2023 came into force on 13 June 2023 – it increases the timeframe for an employee to raise a sexual harassment personal grievance (a grievance under section 103(1)(d) of the Employment Relations Act 2000) with their employer from 90 days to 12 months.

The Employment Relations Act 2000 refers to sexual harassment in detail within sections 108, and 116 to 118.

Any other personal grievances must still be raised within 90 days from either the date in which the action alleged to amount to the personal grievance occurred or came to the notice of the employee, whichever is later.

Do previous incidents fall under this new period?

All alleged sexual harassment incidents which occurred before the Act came into force on the 13 June still require that personal grievances be raised in a 90-day timeframe. However, if the employee only became aware of the sexual harassment incident after the Act came into force, then the 12-month timeframe would be available.

What is the impact on employment agreements?

From the 13 June 2023, employers are required by law to include the modified time in new employment agreements. Employers and employees alike are covered by the modified time in the Act, regardless of the time stated in any existing employment agreement.

Now is an excellent time to review your employment agreements, as moving forward this change needs to be made.

If you have any questions or queries about your work situation as an employer or employee, please contact the Watermark team directly. We are happy to advise you.